It's debatable if it was a good use of time, but I was there last night on Bloomberg where Herman Cain ably defended his 9-9-9- plan, and fended off various cranky questions. Mitt Romney was also articulate, but didn't have such an easily grasped approach as Cain, though it's clear that he's for less government and more entrepreneurship. He's more conservative than not.
Rick Perry once again demonstrated that he either has no economic plan suitable to the situation the country finds itself in or is just too inarticulate to present it. For the 4th debate in a row he looked lame. English isn't as big a challenge to him as it is to W, but nearly so. For just one example, when he meant (I think) to say the American public doesn't trust Congress, he said, "The American public isn't trustworthy to Congress." Huh?
None of the others did anything to change his/her second tier status. Newt again had some insightful and amusing comments at various points. But he's swimming upstream because of (a) his age, (2) his various wives and how he acquired them, and (3) his record as Speaker where he was not very successful given what he had to work with and bailed early.
Newt is mostly a gadfly. He's a man with more solutions than there are problems and an eagerness to talk about all of them. He's entertaining, and actually has some good ideas about various things. But few take him seriously as a leader. l believe he's in it because he likes the attention, likes to perform, and has nothing better to do right now. (Also, and this goes for all the "minor" candidates, the large number of televised national debates this cycle gives all these folks far more face-time than they could have managed under the old way where they would have had to collect campaign cash, buy TV commercial time, and earn free media. Because of this, there's less incentive than in the past for the single-digit candidates to drop out. They're more "with the show" than they would have been in the past.)
Rick Santorum often looks and sounds like a cranky undergraduate running for student body president. He was cross last night because he didn't get as much attention as the Big Three, and a time or two looked like a child banging his spoon on his highchair because he didn't want to eat his peas.
Michele Bachmann's 15 minutes are way in the past. She has a solid approach, but no one's tuned in to her anymore. Part of her problem is how she sounds. She has a high-pitched, Mid-western, through-the-nose honk, and she always talks like's she's under stress, making it stressful to listen to her. I wouldn't mind being governed by her for eight years if I didn't have to listen to her.
Few in the hall knew who Jon Hunstman was and what he was doing on the stage. He did little to clear this up. He appears to understand business pretty well, but is clueless about everything else and is about as far out of step with the current mood of the Republican base as one can be.
Ron Paul's incoherent and cranky ramble about the Fed remains on continuous loop. I don't think he sleeps in a bed at night. I believe his campaign manager just hangs him up in a hall closet at end of business. When this campaign cycle is over, he'll be put back in the attic until the next one.
Earlier I mentioned the Big Three. It appears for the moment that Cain and Romney are the Big Two. Perry more and more looks like a player headed back to AAA ball. He's not shown the ability to hit Big League pitching. Curve balls disrupt his timing. And the complete sentence baffles him.
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