Here are my final thoughts on tonight’s GOP Debate in Charleston, South Carolina which aired on CNN.
Ron Paul – He was marginalized in the debate. It was too much for the audience which forced moderator John King to include him on a question concerning abortion. Paul was right to say that as a medical professional, an OBGYN in particular, his views might be worth hearing.
In the limited time allotted to him, he performed reasonably well. As with other debates where foreign policy is on the backrunner, Paul kept the hysterics to a minimum.
Newt Gingrich – You know a candidate has done well when he receives not one, but two standing ovations in the first five minutes of the debate. Even Ronald Reagan didn’t get two standing ovations when he said he was paying for that microphone. I mean when Quin Hillyer comes to Newt’s defense, well, then you’ve got something.
Newt provided good detailed answers about SOPA, illegal immigration, reasonably defended Rick Santorum’s criticisms on health care, illegal immigration and abortion. When discussing returning veterans he reminded Ron Paul there is such a thing as the GI Bill. And for good measure, he released his tax returns online.
I think Newtmentum is going full speed ahead.
Mitt Romney – He had a better debate tonight than he did Monday but he still struggled with the tax return question. That he can’t give a simple answer to a simple question is mind boggling.
However, Romney did defend his record at Bain far more ably than he has in the past noting that its profits benefitted both pension plans and charities. Like Newt, he also reasonably defended Santorum’s criticisms on health care, illegal immigration and abortion.
Romney even drew laughter when asked what he would have done differently in his campaign, replied, “Well, I could have had 25 more votes in Iowa.” But then he also drew applause when he said he would like to spend more time focusing his attention on President Obama rather than his GOP rivals.
But whether Romney will get his wish remains to be seen. I don’t think he did a good enough job to quell the doubts that have been raised in the past week.
Rick Santorum – He went on the offensive against both Romney and Newt on health care, illegal immigration and abortion. But both Romney and Newt answered his criticisms effectively which only seemed to exasperate Santorum. His agitation reached his peak towards the end of the debate when he ripped into Ron Paul’s record on abortion after he thought Paul was talking about him. The only problem was that Paul said, “I wasn’t even thinking of you,” which seemed to take the wind out of Santorum’s sails.
Santorum doesn’t do acerbic and angry well. The problem is that he is acerbic and angry far too often.
The next GOP debate is scheduled to take place next Monday night in Tampa, Florida. It will air on NBC at 9 p.m. EST.