Last week Kish and I turned on CNN at 9 to watch the news and watched, instead, the second half of the Republican candidates debate. Here are my observations based solely on that limited exposure, moving left to right on the stage.
Rick Santorum: Desperate for attention. Consciously staking out the most conservative position on every issue. (Seriously, the defense budget can’t be cut at all?) His boast that he was best suited to beat President Obama because he had been elected in a “swing state,” without noting that he got hammered in his bid for reelection, was an eye-roller.
Ron Paul: Looks like an elf. Every rational point — like questioning some of our defense spending — was undercut by a nutty statement that makes you wonder what he would do if he actually became President. It’s a scary proposition.
Hermann Cain: Not ready for prime time. Wants to reform the tax code — who doesn’t? — but seems to lack knowledge of foreign policy and other areas of domestic policy. Repeated himself when he didn’t have anything new to say. Business experience is great, but political experience is important, too, and Cain doesn’t have it.
Mitt Romney: Glib, polished, well-prepared. Calculated, too. One of the most comfortable candidates on stage. Gives the impression that there isn’t a question you could ask him that he wouldn’t be able to handle reasonably well. Acts like he is leading the pack, and he is.
Rick Perry: Awkward, tongue-tied, and uncomfortable. Struggled to get out coherent sentences. Is he over-prepared or under-prepared, tired, or just not suited to the debate format? It’s hard to imagine him in a one-on-one meeting with a foreign leader.
Newt Gingrich: Smart and well-spoken. His answer describing the silly danger of making automatic cuts if an arbitrary deficit-cutting goal isn’t met was as good an answer as you will hear in an unrehearsed setting. Capably steered the discussion back to President Obama’s performance, where the Republicans should want it to be. The most impressive candidate on stage.
Michele Bachmann: An afterthought. The answer in which she launched into a naked appeal to women who are worried about losing their homes seemed programmed and over the top. Trying hard to look like she belongs on the stage.
The part of the debate we watched actually was somewhat interesting. I might watch the next debate, now that we are getting ever closer to 2012.