Tonight, I watched the CNN-AEI-Heritage Foundation GOP Debate and here is my evaluation of each candidate.
Jon Huntsman – This was probably his best debate. He had a strong exchange with Mitt Romney over troop levels in Afghanistan. Huntsman also made a salient point when he said that sanctions against Iran wouldn’t work as long as China and Russia weren’t going to play ball. However, he spent much of this time talking about domestic affairs in a foreign policy debate. Huntsman has New Hampshire on his mind.
Michele Bachmann – She continued her polite disagreement with Rick Perry over our relations with Pakistan and also had an interesting exchange with Newt Gingrich on immigration. Bachmann also took President Obama to task for giving Iran “the luxury of time” in developing a nuclear weapon. Although she acquitted herself well I don’t think she gains much from this debate. However, I think she will be guns ablazing in the next televised GOP debate in Iowa next month.
Newt Gingrich – He had an exchange with Ron Paul over the Patriot Act at the outset of the debate. But for the most part he maintained his posture of remaining above the fray. He could have been in a vulnerable position when the discussion turned to illegal immigration. When Gingrich argued in favor of allowing illegal immigrants who had been in the country for 25 years who had committed no other crime and belonged to a church instead of pulling a Perry and criticizing his rivals for having no heart, he made the case it would be a pro-family immigration policy which drew strong applause. It was a very deft reply.
Herman Cain – Unfortunately, I don’t think he did anything to change the perception that foreign policy isn’t his strong suit. When he was asked a question about Rick Perry’s proposal for a no-fly zone in Syria, Cain ended his answer by saying how “we need to grow our economy.”
Mitt Romney – This was a so-so debate for Romney. He spoke in platitudes and seemed to be going through the motions.
Rick Perry – It was his second straight good debate. For a moment there, I thought he was going to get into it with Romney over immigration but in his better judgment refrained from doing so.
Ron Paul – Although I have been critical of his foreign policy, this was by far Paul’s best debate. Usually when it comes to foreign policy, Paul will say something that draws jeers from the debate audience. That didn’t happen this time. He held his own with both Gingrich and Romney and advanced his case. If anyone benefits from this debate, it is Paul.
Rick Santorum – A solid, snark-free debate performance. He’ll need one next month in Iowa.
Speaking of which, the next televised GOP debate takes place on December 10th at Drake University in Des Moines. It will air on ABC at 9 p.m. EST.
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