Another GOP Presidential debate is in the books, and this one was more style than substance.
This one seemed to be more defined by its donnybrooks than by its ideas. There was certainly more mention of each other than the last debate, and the laser tight focus on Obama that we witnessed in the first debate, while still there, certainly faded.
First thing is first, let me go over the statistic I kept track of during the debate. I decided to calculate the number of questions each candidate was asked, including follow-ups but not including the closing remarks, and then also count how many times the candidate actually answered the question asked. So below is a chart of the number of questions the candidate was asked, the number of times they answered the question, and the percent of questions asked to questions answered. It’s in percent order.
Hermain Cain – 9, 9, 100%
Michele Bachmann – 11, 10, 91%
Rick Santorum – 8, 7, 88%
Mitt Romney – 11, 9, 82%
John Huntsman – 7, 5, 71%
Tim Pawlenty – 10, 6, 60%
Ron Paul – 10, 6, 60%
Newt Gingrich – 6, 2, 33%
Take this chart with a grain of salt because after all I am human, and therefore imperfect.
None-the-less, there is an interesting take-away here; generally speaking the candidates at the top of the polling, were in the top of this metric, meaning maybe they’re more genuine and straightforward than we give them credit for.
It should come as no surprise that Herman Cain came out on top, according to my calculations he answered every question asked. By answered I mean, he directly answered the question, no beating around the bush or stretching the question into something else, he answered every one directly. It was impressive.
With that said, I still sense something missing with Cain. When he talks in these debates, it feels like he’s in over his head, like he has no idea what he would do in the White House. Cain is a great idea in theory, just not in practice. He has zero ideas on foreign policy, he openly claimed tonight that he’s “still learning” about Afghanistan and the Middle East. Uh, sorry, but I’d like a President who has already taken Foreign Policy 101. I’m beginning to believe that I like a guy with a business background, but at least some political experience so he/she understands the basics of things like foreign policy.
To me, that’s what Herman Cain is lacking, confidence in his answers and ideas. He doesn’t seem sure of what he says, it is like he’s second guessing himself constantly. A good leader is confident in their decisions.
The winner? Can I say pass? Can I say no one? I really don’t think any particular candidate stood out more than another. But if I had to pick…Rick Santorum.
What? Santorum? No really, who won?
Yeah, Santorum won, allow me to explain.
My metric for picking a winner is the candidate that did themselves the most favors. Put yourself in the shoes of a undecided voter, which candidate is the most memorable from this debate?
I’d argue Santorum. He showed passion tonight, he showed confidence tonight, he fought, he raised his voice, he showed dynamics. It is still glaringly obvious that he would be much better suited for a race about morals, but he still showed some impressive knowledge and solutions for the economy. But his highlight was when he bit Ron Paul’s face off over morals and Iran. Paul made the comment about how Iran poses no real threat to the U.S. because they have no Air Force or something. Seriously, that’s his argument. Uh, yeah Ron Paul, I don’t remember Al Qaeda having an Air Force, yet somehow they seemed to pose a threat to us domestically.
Santorum put him in his place, he got passionate, he showed he cared. He propped up his record on Iran, while also offering a solution and explaining why Paul was wrong. It was one of the few substantive moments of the debate.
Which brings me to the loser, Ron Paul. Again, assuming the metric is doing yourself electoral favors, Paul lost. He pleased his base, but let’s be honest, he could go up there and speak Japanese and please his base. He didn’t gain any additional support. Why? He made no sense on foreign policy, period. In one sentence he claimed the threat Iran posed to the United States was blowback from the 50′s and 70′s, yet two minutes later claimed they posed no threat.
He seems to think a country has to have an overly powerful military to pose a threat to us. Again, Al Qaeda didn’t have any official military, yet they successfully attacked us. Iran could easily hire a computer hacker from China to break into our computer systems, steal secret information, then blackmail us with it. All without the use of an Air Force or any military personnel. Ron Paul came across as a great mind in foreign policy, assuming this debate took place in 1950.
The other loser, Newt Gingrich and Fox News. Newt started well, then he turned into an angry two-year-old. Asking him a question was like trying to feed him broccoli. Chris Wallace’s questions weren’t “gotcha” questions, they were “defend yourself” questions. If you don’t want to be asked about something you’ve said in the past, I suggest you stop speaking.
With that said, I thought Fox spend way too much time on “defend yourself” questions. I have no problem having half the debate centered around those questions, after all it’s early on and we do need to hash out the candidate’s records. But there were zero questions about entitlement reform. There were no questions about the candidate’s specific plan to return the American economy to greatness. There was very little substance. It was all a show. Lots of infighting to make things sexy, but very little policy questions. It was disappointing, and Fox is better than that.
CNN did the opposite, they spent too much time on policy questions and not enough time on background and defending themselves. We’ve had two rather lousy debates, I’m eager for the third.
Until then, I’m still undecided about my pick, but I have to admit, Rick Santorum showed me something tonight, he has passion and facts and wasn’t afraid to call people out. I’m not backing anyone right now, and I won’t for a few months, but I’m beginning to feel a little more comfortable with these candidates.