The Republican New Hampshire Debates

Well, the Republican candidates for President held a debate in New Hampshire earlier this week. I guess I might as well talk about it. These are the candidates and what I thought of them based on their performances:

1) Herman Cain - this debate did not go well for him. He's a businessman and he has a lot of good ideas. Clearly he knows how to handle a big spending and debt problem. But what he demonstrated at this debate is that he isn't very smooth at explaining things while on the spot with the left-leaning Press. He fumbled a question about allowing Muslims in his cabinet. It's still early and he can recover, but it didn't bode well for him.

2) Tim Pawlenty - for awhile he had looked like a reasonably strong candidate, even taking on Mitt Romney's disastrous Massachusetts healtcare mandate the day before on Fox News. But once he was on the stage next to Mr Romney and asked to restate what he had said earlier about 'Romneycare' he ... blinked. He refused to criticize Romneycare or say anything in any way negative about Mitt Romney's bad healtcare mandate for Massachusetts. I understand about not wanting to be an asshole and take a giant shit on your fellow party members, but what he did came across more as fear of Mitt Romney, as spinelessness and weakness, than as being respectful. It will cost him. America is looking for a 'real man' right now and that wasn't very manly.

3) Ron Paul - I've heard a lot of love for him from the most die hard conservative voters. They love several things he's said and done. But his "gosh ah shucks" Texas cowboy approach to this debate didn't cut it. He was unimpressive and reminded me of Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies. Jed Clampett was a plain spoken, decent and honest man, but who the hell would choose him to be President of the United States?

4) Rick Santorum - he seems to say what he means, and he shows conviction. He's not overflowing with charisma, but to conservative voters, the fact that he stands up for what they believe and doesn't dance back and forth on those key issues speaks volumes. He's not a total unknown, but he's not well known enough to be a serious threat just yet. As things shake up, if he can just stay the course and not stumble or repeatedly sabotage himself with stupid photos of him sticking his tongue out like John McCain, he could be a contender.

5) Newt Gingrich - he's trying to dance closely enough to the Republican Party leaders' to draw their love, while at the same time attacking President Obama on key issues that voters are angry about. When he's focused on the issues voters care about he's fine. But when he dances over to the side of issues that endear him to the Party Leaders he shows himself to be yet another treacherous compromising candidate of the sort that conservative voters are sick and tired of.

6) Mitt Romney - he's smart. He's confident. He's eloquent. He even looks like a President. And he's way too closely aligned with the Republican Party leaders and their compromise-anything approach to governing for conservative's liking. He's looking like a Party Man, and that is a bad thing. He'll definitely get the full financial backing of the Republican Party Leaders, but he hasn't shown himself to be the man conservatives hoped he'd be and for that, he isn't the man for the job.

7) Michele Bachmann - she's got balls. There is a reason that the very sick-of-business-as-usual Tea Party has been slowly wrapping their arms around her as their Chosen One, and it isn't because they want to cop a feel. It's because she says what they believe and she sticks to it. More than merely sticking to it, she explains those beliefs well and fights for them. And that is precisely what conservative voters have been desperately searching for over the past many years, only to be denied by the out-of-touch Republican Party Leaders with their Golden Boy candidates no one wants, like McCain and Dole. She won't be readily embraced by the Republican Party Leaders. In fact, looking at what they did to Sarah Palin in 2008, I expect they'll try to cut her throat right up to the very end, even if it means Obama gets reelected. But if enough conservatives are willing to support her with their checkbooks as well as their votes, she could win this thing. She impressed.

So there you go. That's the impressions that I took away from that debate in New Hampshire. I usually don't even watch these things, but I was curious to see who was an ass, who was a weasel, and who, if anyone, had some guts.

WINNER: New Hampshire Republican Debates

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