By Tom Quiner
I just finished watching tonight’s Republican debate. I had four reactions:
REACTION #1: Rick Perry is done. If you didn’t see the debate, Mr. Perry said he would eliminate three government agencies. He began to list them off but couldn’t remember the third. It was painful to watch. A million Republicans asked themselves this question: do we want this man debating President Obama? The answer is a resounding no. Mr. Obama would chew him up and spit him out. Mr. Perry bores me. I can’t wait until another candidate gets a chance to speak.
REACTION #2: Mitt Romney is consistent. No one has knocked him off his perch. I don’t think many folks are passionate about Mr. Romney. I’m not. I will not vote for him in the Iowa caucas. Nonetheless, he comes across as presidential in these debates.
REACTION #3: Newt Gingrich always electrifies an audience. I want Newt to have more time. He demonstrates a breadth of knowledge on the issues that goes beyond everyone else. He is articulate. His ideas are profound but accessible. He is rising in the polls. He will move up even more after tonight’s debate at the expense of Herman Cain. Mr. Cain’s response to every question seems to be his 9-9-9 Plan. “Mr. Cain, how would you bring about world piece?” “With my 9-9-9 Plan.” “Mr. Cain, what should Joe Paterno have done to save his job at Penn State?” “If only he had listened to my 9-9-9 Plan.” By the way, the 9-9-9 Plan is a good plan. But one gets the idea that Mr. Cain is hiding behind it to mask his lack of knowledge on a lot of the questions he is asked. Who do Republicans want debating Mr. Obama? Newt Gingrich. Surely not Herman Cain.
REACTION #4: Michelle Bachman came across strong tonight. Even more, she showed guts with one of her answers. She was the only candidate against maintaining the payroll tax cut. President Obama sold it as job stimulus, which of course it isn’t. But it is politically unpopular to call for a return to the higher, normal rates. Ms. Bachman made an eloquent case for how this has hastened the fiscal implosion of Social Security. She pointed out how this tax cut has been counter-productive by putting seniors at risk. She came across as strong and knowledgeable. Good job. In my book, she won the debate tonight.
Although Herman Cain cannot be written off yet, I see the race coming down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.