Key moments from last night’s debate

I didn’t get the chance to watch the Republican presidential debate on FOX last night, where it seems that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace did a great job of asking tough (if at times off-topic) questions. But I’ve caught up on the highlights and the reactions, and here are a few of what seemed like the important (or funny, or depressing) points to me.

1. When asked for a show of hands as to who would walk away from a budget deal that contained a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases, every single one of the eight Republican candidates raised their hands. Every single one of them claimed to oppose a 10-to-1 deal on the grounds that it isn’t good enough. I don’t think the below video needs any additional commentary; it speaks for itself.

2. Ron Paul thoroughly schooled Rick Santorum on Iran. Santorum’s incoherent foreign policy was no match for Ron Paul’s common-sense advice to simply try to imagine putting oneself in Iran’s shoes, surrounded as it is by nuclear threats, to determine why it might be so interested (assuming that it is) in pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.

3. Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann took the gloves off last night (something Pawlenty was accused of being unable or unwilling to do in relation to Mitt Romney and “Obamneycare” in the previous debate). While looking a little more feisty this time around, T-Paw nevertheless wasn’t able to do much damage, as Bachmann ably pivoted with some sharp-edged comebacks of her own. (It almost goes without saying that neither of the two showed even the slightest glimpses of ability to govern, preferring instead to boast of their uncompromising positions on everything, but such is the nature of the primaries, and especially so with today’s GOP.) I’m not certain what Bachmann achieves by going head-to-head with Pawlenty, though, since he’s possibly on the verge of being forced out due to lack of traction, and she’s running at or near the top in polls.

4. I’m a bit torn on this one: Far be it from me to agree with Newt Gingrich on anything, but he may have a point here. While I do think that Wallace and Baier largely seemed to do an admirable job of asking questions that voters wanted to hear, Gingrich was understandably (also, self-servingly) frustrated with questions that pertained more to campaign dynamics and gossip than actual policy positions. Given the frequent insanity on policy positions emanating from all the Republican candidates (Gingrich himself being perhaps the most notable in that regard), I can’t say I entirely disagree with his take on the questions.

5. Jon Huntsman. Whatever happened to this guy?

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About Jay Pinho

Jay is a recent graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York. Previously he studied international security at L'Institut d'√Čtudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. He currently writes about politics, foreign affairs, and journalism and continues to make painstakingly slow progress in amateur photography.

0 thoughts on “Key moments from last night’s debate

  1. I did watch the entire debate and thought it was adequate but not comprehensive. Too many individuals in the debate which did not allow enough time for the attendees to answer the questions comprehensively. Personally, I thought Cain made a good presentation of himself and Newt won the debate. Huntsman was there as was Mitt but they did not make an impression. I agree with you on Bachmann, her showing was okay but unimpressive. Pawlenty spent too much time attacking his opponents rather than present himself as a viable candidate. None of them came across as Presidential except perhaps Cain but he will not be recognized. I looked at a straw poll today and he barely got honorable mention.

    I like your blog but I get the feeling you are a little more liberal than me, but that’s okay it might make for good debate.

    Dr. Tickles—-Conservativetickler

    1. Thanks for the comment. Good point about the number of candidates as well; with only two hours to debate, it really doesn’t leave much time for the candidates themselves to include any nuance or complexities in their statements. (I’d like to think this was why they all seemed so out of touch on the budget deal, but I’m afraid I’m being generous.)

      I do think Bachmann may have to ignore Pawlenty from here on out. It doesn’t do her any good, and it only prolongs T-Paw’s overextended moment in the sun before he necessarily bows out.

  2. Definitely correct about Bachmann ignoring the other candidates. If a candidate spends all their time defending themselves against the comments of the other candidates they will never get their own point across. However, that said…Perry entered the race today and I watched his delivery. He is a far better speaker than any of the eight candidates in the race and he is ten times more brilliant than Obama. His message makes more sense and he has a record to stand on that cannot be denied. Do I trust him? Haven’t made up my mind on that one. I do like what he says but Bush said the same things and did something else.

    If Perry is everything he says he is then I will vote for him and I think America will also vote for him. If he turns out to be a phony we will regret every moment of him.

    Factually, I do not like Mitt Romney and I cannot stomach Huntsman.
    I would like to get your opinion on the subject.

    Ron –Dr. Tickles—Schaeffernews.wordpress.com

    1. This is a very strange year to be a Republican running for president. For one, Mitt Romney is the current front-runner (although Perry’s entrance may change that), despite the fact that his signature move as Massachusetts governor was precisely the same type of legislation that the Republican Party is trying to repeal at the national level now.

      Now that Perry has thrown his hat into the ring, it could mean a whole bunch of things. He’s a hybrid candidate, in that he appeals both to the Tea Party side and the mainstream old-guard Republican constituency. So hypothetically, this could mean he’ll steal votes from both Bachmann and Romney. My best guess is that, over time, Bachmann will fade (too extreme) and it will become primarily a Romney-Perry battle, but I don’t feel that strongly about this prediction.

      If that does happen, though, it will be interesting to watch. Romney’s big weakness is his health care plan in Massachusetts; Perry, meanwhile, has to deal with his secession remarks and his record of executions in Texas. The difference is that Romney’s problems are more likely to affect him in the primaries, whereas Perry’s wouldn’t necessarily come up until the general election.

      Then there’s the question of how much Perry reminds Americans of Dubya. I wish Huntsman were more of a presence, but he doesn’t seem remotely capable of gaining any traction other than the media’s outsized interest in him.

      It’s going to be an interesting next year and a half.

What do you think?