Here are my observations of tonight's GOP debate in South Carolina co-sponsored by CBS and The National Journal. Most of the questions concentrated on foreign policy and defense. I watched the first hour was telecast on CBS and watched the last half hour at cbsnews.com. I should note that I was having some technical difficulty while watching the online portion so I'll only comment on what I saw and heard.
Jon Huntsman - He once again complained about being lonely on stage. Quit your whining!
With regard to foreign policy, Huntsman can described as Ron Paul Lite. He wants the troops home from Afghanistan, opposes enhanced interrogation and wants to placate Pakistan and China. He spoke about reaching out to the "internet generation" in China. Well, the last I checked the internet is severely censored in China so I'm not sure what can be gained there unless someone can devise an Internet Free China a la Radio Free Europe.
He did give props to Paul Ryan when Senator DeMint asked him a question about government spending. Still, Huntsman has no constituency outside his household.
Michele Bachmann - As in other debates, she tried to interject with no avail. She did get off a good line about the ACLU running the CIA but then got tongue tied rather after. Bachmann did not make a significant contribution to this debate.
Ron Paul - So long as Ron Paul insists on being to the left of President Obama on foreign policy, he stands no chance of winning the Republican nomination.
Herman Cain - While his answers were workmanlike they were also honest and forthright. We don't know if Pakistan is friend or foe. Bachmann and Santorum think Pakistan is a friend while Gingrich and Perry see Pakistan as our foe. With regard to Iran, he spoke about assisting the opposition although spoke of his disinclination towards military intervention. He also spoke in favor of enhanced interrogation.
Mitt Romney - Another smooth performance. He continued his tough talk on China and reiterated that Iran would not obtain a nuclear weapon and would go to war if all other options had been exhausted. The question is does anyone actually believe he would back up his words once inside the Oval Office.
Newt Gingrich - As with previous debates, he displayed his encyclopedic knowledge of policy and was diplomatic with his rivals and confrontational with the media (i.e. his row with Scott Pelley over the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki.) His momentum will continue to swing upward.
Rick Perry - Although you could argue that he had nowhere to go but up this was his best debate even if it is a day late and a dollar short. Yet he did define a significant part of the debate narrative when he argued that "foreign aid starts at zero." Perry also made light of his gaffe from Wednesday night on a couple of occasions. He pointed out that some of the federal agencies he couldn't remember the other night should also start at zero. Perry is a far more attractive candidate when he applies honey instead of vinegar.
Rick Santorum - He again complained about not being asked enough questions even though he was called upon generously. However, I don't think he took advantage of that generosity and spent much of the evening arguing we needed to make nice with Pakistan.
The next scheduled televised debate takes place in Washington, D.C. on November 22nd and airs on CNN at 8 p.m. The debate will be co-sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and The American Enterprise Institute.
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