The second GOP debate in Manchester, New Hampshire is over. Let’s look at the results.
The show stealing award goes to Michele Bachmann who took the opportunity to officially announce that she was running. She also gets high marks for presentation as her responses came off as inspiring and confident. Whether you agree with her positions or not, she certainly seems to believe them.
Many of the candidates displayed a great deal of bravado but there was not a lot of substance as far as policy was concerned. At least not any policy that hasn’t been heard before such as tax cuts and cutting entitlements and spending. And there was plenty of Obama bashing to go around as well. One might have thought Obama was Herbert Hoover or James Buchanan. Some of the claims were not just misleading but flat out wrong such as the spin on unemployment figures.
Perhaps the most glaring omission was the absence of any challenge to Mitt Romney. When moderator John King of CNN pressed Tim Pawlenty on why he wouldn’t address Romney’s health care overhaul in Massachusetts when he had just criticized it referring to it as ‘ObamneyCare’ on a talk show the day before, Pawlenty balked. And in a split screen with Pawlenty back peddaling from John King’s question on one side, you could see the realization on Romney’s face on the other side that the candidates were going to adhere to Reagan’s 11th Commandment of not attacking other Republicans. Romney knew he had the evening at that moment and once again, Pawlenty showed that he is not the alpha male.
Romney had a plethora of weak spots other than health care that could have been exploited such as his flip flops on abortion, climate change, and job creation and there were plenty of opportunities for the other candidates to take on Romney but after Pawlenty declined, no one else bothered to try.
Former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was on hand to represent the Democratic perspective and he was quick to rebut Romney’s accusations of the President’s failure to create jobs by contrasting the current positive job growth rate with Romney’s dismal record on the same. Employment grew in Massachusetts by less than 1% under Romney’s tenure as Governor. That ranked Massachusetts at #47 in the nation and even then only because Louisiana was recovering from Katrina at the time. In fact, Romney’s reputation as a corporate raider means that he’s better at job elimination than he is creation. Gibbs called the debate a ‘rerun’ from eight years ago saying, “Look, I don’t think any of these guys or gals has a plan for how to get us out of this mess. They only have plans to repeat how we got into it.”
Interestingly, a quickie poll over at MSNBC.com shows that ‘None of the above’ won the debate with 27%. Ron Paul came in second with 24% and Mitt Romney third with 22%. Romney may have come out unscathed this time but there are plenty of more opportunities coming up for his rivals to take aim at him. The next scheduled debate is August 11th in Iowa. And there are still potential candidates like John Huntsman or Rick Perry that he may yet have to face. The Tea Party has also vowed to actively work to keep Romney from getting the nomination. Whether he can weather the challenges ahead is still anyone’s guess.
For now; Romney wins this round. Bachmann gets second place.
- GOP Debate Rivals Let Romney Off Easy (Politico.com)
- Romney’s Rivals Hold Their Fire (MSNBC.com)
- Analysis: Mitt Romney leaves GOP debate unscathed – The Associated Press (news.google.com)
- Debate helped Romney and Bachmann (cnn.com)
- And the GOP Presidential Debate Winner Is… (thedailybeast.com)
- Romney Untouched by Rivals, Goes on Offense Against Obama (huffingtonpost.com)