GOP Debate: Winners & Losers, But Mostly Losers

   So who won the GOP debate in Ames, IA last night?  With a mostly subdued panel-and moderator questions that ranged from contentious to downright bizarre –  the more pertinent question seems to be “Who lost?”

The most obvious losers were Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon “My Record in Utah” Huntsman.  Santorum and Pawlenty both carried the air of men who understood this debate was probably their last chance to distinguish themselves to voters and the media.  The two candidates came out strong, highlighting their records with solid, direct responses.  One of Pawlenty’s big mistakes of the night came when Chris Wallace offered him a “do-over” for his previous failure to stick it to Romney regarding Massachusetts “Obamneycare” during the first debate.  Even with the opportunity handed to him, Pawlenty could barely muster a direct jab at Romney and didn’t even use all his allotted time to respond.  And then there was his other big mistake – when he finally did summon a little pluck and decide to take on another candidate, he chose Michele Bachmann – the only woman on the stage.  Bachmann stood her ground, and Pawlenty made some salient points at her expense, but it didn’t seem like a wise strategy to let the first person he directly and forcefully engages be the only woman in the field.  Not good optics, as they say.

Santorum lost the debate because…well…he’s Rick Santorum – strong conservative, affable guy, but completely unmemorable.  His cause was not aided in any way by the moderators, who went as long as thirty minutes without directing a single question or comment toward Santorum.  As the night wore on it was obvious Santorum was frustrated with his screen time, but he was unable assert himself enough to demand more time.  He was just too…nice.

Jon Huntsman may have lost last night’s debate 2 months ago when he first announced his candidacy and many in the mainstream media picked him as a good opponent for Obama right away.  An endorsement from Jeb Bush didn’t help much either.  Has Huntsman never heard of Bush Fatigue?

And then there was Newt – no doubt the smartest guy in the room.  With his direct, thoughtful answers he ran circles around his competition.  However, Newt’s fatal flaw is his total confidence in his intelligence and stature.  Clearly irritated, Gingrich slapped away a question regarding the mass defection of his original campaign team.  The crowd seemed to enjoy Newt’s boldness at first, but ultimately his “cranky Uncle Newt at family Thanksgiving dinner” routine proved to be too much.  Newt didn’t lose, but he didn’t win anything either.

Herman Cain was fine.  He was given a moment to clarify his remarks about banning mosques and Sharia law.  His answers were not eloquent, but adequate.  He knows a lot about business and running a business and how businesses run and companies and such.  Cainiacs were no doubt pleased with his performance over all.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul.  He had his Ron Paul comb-over and wore his Ron Paul suit and read from his Ron Paul script.  He hit all his Ron Paul talking points.  The Ron Paul fans screamed at every Ron Paulism that came out of Ron Paul’s mouth.  Ron Paul probably raised a lot of money last night.

Michele Bachmann held her own but seemed somewhat subdued.  One wonders if her campaign advisors have been coaching her to avoid the “screeching woman” syndrome so many female candidates are accused of falling into. It was a pretty unremarkable night for Mrs. Bachmann until Byron York asked what was probably the most ridiculous, most bizarre question of the evening.  Without a hint of embarrassment, York asked Bachmann if, being a Bible-believing Christian, she would follow the commandment from 1Peter and submit to her husband even in the White House.  Bachmann seemed as stunned as the crowd for a brief second, then fired off a very sweet response about loving her husband and understanding that the verse is about mutual respect.  If Fox News were one of the players on stage last night, Byron York would have been the guy that lost the game for them.  It was an awful, silly question, which Bachmann handled with ease.  If she had a bright spot last night, that was it.

That leaves us with Romney, and Romney’s hair, which has its very own campaign team, don’t you know?  Romney and his hair were the clear winners last night, but perhaps more for what didn’t happen than what did happen.  Romney’s hair let Mitt do all the talking, and he said all the right things.  Obviously, Mitt has been looking at the polls and seeing that people are afraid he’s too soft to take it to Obama when the time comes.  But while he was purposeful and calculated in his remarks, Romney wasn’t engaging.  He was wide open to attacks on his governing record and flip-flopping but no opponents seemed up to the task.  It seemed inevitable that someone other than the moderator would make hay out of his disappearance during the debt ceiling battle, but no one took it up.  The result was a missed opportunity by at least 3 or 4 candidates to take out their competition.  Without challenges, a mediocre performance on Mitt’s part looked strong.

Last night’s debate was rather weak.  The field seemed unsure of how hard to attack and how much to preen.  The moderators offered weak questions and topics.  At times the most exciting thing about the debate was the audience.  They, at least, seemed engaged and excited.  It’s still early, but these candidates seem to need a bit more fire under them.  With Rick Perry now in the mix and Sarah Palin lurking around the edges in her tour bus that surely comes equipped with its own ‘Jaws’ theme music, it’s going to be a tighter race than ever.

Support Conservative Daily News with a small donation via Paypal or credit card that will go towards supporting the news and commentary you've come to appreciate.

Rich Mitchell

Rich Mitchell is the editor-in-chief of Conservative Daily News and the president of Bald Eagle Media, LLC. His posts may contain opinions that are his own and are not necessarily shared by Bald Eagle Media, CDN, staff or .. much of anyone else. Find him on twitter, facebook and

Related Articles

One Comment

  1. All these guys have run for President before, if not more than once. We know all we need to know about these guys and they were losers then, why would we change our minds now since it’s been “x” years since they ran? No, they haven’t changed a bit. As a matter of fact they are worse because their message is the same as it was with just a few changes for the times, not substance. They offer nothing that their history would prove them to be someone who’s time has come. Maybe Michell Bachman might be a better choice of them all, but we haven’t seen everyone who plans on running.

    If we get past the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries and a candidate doesn’t show up that all conservatives could get behind, that we know would be able to beat Obama, has been in government so would know how to deal with the Washington crowd, has been in on the voting against all this Socialist Democrat stuff that they have tried to ram down our throats and has a history that is verifiable to be conservative, and has nothing in their past that the leftist media could dig up on him or her, then and only then would that be a candidate that we might be able to consider as our candidate.

    And time in this process we don’t find a candidate that we can get behind, then we had better put all our effort to make absolutely sure that we can clean out the Senate, and hell, the rest of Congress to. And now that I think about it we DO have alot of work to do in cleaning out the Congress like getting rid of people like Boehner and McConnell and the rest of the cronie country club big government Republican’s we know as RINO’s. Get their butts out of there, and get the Socialist Democrats out of the Senate so that Reid is surrounded by conservatives and cannot do anything whatsoever except be the only “no” vote on what’s left of the Democrat side. That’s what I want to see because Reid has been the power over the Senate since 2004. There wasn’t that much resistance against him by the Republican controlled Senate because they lost the Senate in 2006 and Reid took charge and has been a thorn in the side of this nation ever since.

    I have emaile both Romney and Gingrich serveral times and told them and told them to get out of the race so that space can be made for a candidate of more conservative values can be seen by the American people. Because as long as you are there making a big noise and, like, Gingrich, coming up with all these “ideas” and programs that he cooks up all the time for American’s to join and partisipate in his scheme to do I don’t know what. None of the programs that Gingrich has cooked up in the past ten years has made a scratch against the Socialist Democrat aganda. None of his ideas has slowed them down a single bit. So what would he be able to do as President? If he can’t come up with some idea or program for American’s to get behind and have some affect on the speed the Democrats are tearing this country down at all. So what is he talking about. What are any of these guys talking about? They are not speaking my language.

  2. I think that if Obama is going to be the Democrats candidate for President, he ought to be made to go through the verification process that all the candidates had to go through back in ’08 when he first ran. If any other person runs as a Democrat, Obama would have to reprove that he was a “natural born” citizen, I want to see those 9 passports that Obama is said to have, all with different countries of birth on them, and what about all those school records he had locked up in the Dean’s safe at the University of Illnois with orders that they not be shown to anyone unless they have a hand written letter with Obama’s signiture on it. That won’t happen.

    I believe that Obama have to be made to debate whoever it is that runs against him. Of course we may see someone run against him so it makes him look like he is having to fight for his job, you know just for looks, kinda like they do in the former Soviet Union. He would get this milk toast candidate that he would beat handily and it wouild make him look real good. But what if the guy, or woman like Hillary decided that they wouldn’t go along with the game plan and start asking him questions about his lack of making Congress come up with a budget for three years, and by the time 2012 comes along it would have been for his whole first term. The Democrats don’t want a budget because a budget to us means that there is spending caps and cuts in order to not spend any money on things that cause the debt to income ratio to be out of balance. Obama might not be able to answer those questions, and if he didn’t what would be his excuse when everyone knows that America and our government is supposed to have a budget in order to keep from getting into the fix it’s in now. And ObamaCare has just been deemed “unconstitutional” by the 11th Circut Court of Appeals in Philidelphia today. What about that? What would he say to the American people that would convince them that the court was wrong? And I could go on and on.

  3. What bothers me the most is that I know the leftist media is going to pull out all the stops on attacks on any candidate that is someone who is a real conservative. With Biden calling the Tea Party “terrorists” we can expect the media to run with that in their accusations against anyone running on our side especially if they are a Tea Party candidate. God help them, because they’re going to need all the help they can get.

    Obama always remains above the frey. You know that was said about him in every conservative blog and article that came out about Obama back in ’07 and ’08 leading up to the election. He will get his MSM junk yard dogs who he will sehck(spell?) on anyone who runs against him.

    These candidates we have now would be good Democrat candidates that the Democrat party would put up against Obama to make him look good when he beat them bad in debates. Encumbents always have the advantage of having more info to use against their opponents that usually ends up in their opponents demise. And with these guys on stage last night, it would be easy to beat them because of their backgrounds haven’t prepared them for what they’d face by intruders attacking them at every turn during their campaign. It’ll be liberal attackers going after these candidates like they did Romney yesterday afternoon.

Back to top button