In case you missed the June 13th CNN Republican debate from St. Anselm college, you can watch the entire debate video here.
After watching, here are my observations on the state of the race after seeing what Romney, Gingrich and Bachmann brought to the table last night. Here are my thoughts on each candidate in no particular order.
Tim Pawlenty – Pawlenty went into last night quite strong but he seemed to come out of it in a weakened state. The consensus is that he refused to go after Romney in relation to Pawlenty’s “Obamneycare” line from earlier in the week. It was a weak moment and almost helped to elevate Romney in the discussion. Pawlenty was otherwise adequate and professional but nothing to write home about.
Mitt Romney – Romney entered the night as the soft front runner and seemed to leave that way. His performance was congenial and smooth as it was in 2007/2008. He knows how to articulate his message and was able to communicate some of the differences between the so-called “Romneycare” of Massachusetts and “Obamacare” on the national stage. Whether he convinced skeptics is another story but he didn’t back down from the opportunity to engage on the topic, something he’ll need to continue doing to win any conservative vote moving forward.
Newt Gingrich – Gingrich had some strong lines and some strong feeling from the audience, however, for me he failed to come across as anything more than he’s been which is more historical nostalgia for 1994 than a real contender for the nomination. He’s got some good policies, he’s smart about the issues and he can articulate his positions. However, he did not come in with a knockdown performance to jump start his ailing campaign.
Michele Bachmann – Bachmann probably had the strongest performance of the night. She brought the Tea Party message to the table and never once backed down on the issues. She didn’t shy away from any questions and had some strong support from the audience on many topics. Overall she probably came out with the most improvement in the field than anyone else on the stage.
Herman Cain – Cain was lacking the “wow” factor he had back on the May 5th Fox News debate in South Carolina. Maybe that was a home field advantage feeling or maybe he just wasn’t able to stand out on a more crowded stage. Overall he was solid as he was in SC but he didn’t break out of the crowd. Probably on par with Pawlenty and Romney in terms of performance.
Ron Paul – Paul, as always, had some strong lines and some great answers on the topics. He performed as he always does which is feisty and factual. Some of the most enjoyable parts were Paul tearing down the premise of the question before he could answer on topics such as government intervention in the private sector.
Rick Santorum – Santorum was there on stage but I don’t think he could clear some head room amongst Bachmann, Pawlenty and Romney. At best, Santorum is a candidate for VP since Pennsylvania is an important state, however, he lost his last election there by 17 points so I don’t think he is going too far down the road. Granted he gives a strong performance and is a champion on social issues, he doesn’t have much else to offer and that void can be filled by Bachmann, Cain and Pawlenty.
Leave your analysis below, tell me where I’m right or wrong.