Iowa Debate Saw Candidates Take Off the Gloves, Romney Trip Himself Up and Newt Prove He Can Go the Distance

Bookmark and Share   Before we go in to the details of the debate, let us first hand out a few awards based on each debate participant’s performance:

The Awards

Candidate with the Worst Debate MomentMitt Romney;
Romney’s attempt to prove that Rick Perry was wrong about Mitt’s past position on a federal healthcare mandate, prompted Mitt to make a bet of $10,000 with Perry over the issue.
Candidate with the Best Debate MomentNewt Gingrich;
When Newt was asked to defend his remarks about Palestinians being an invented people, he launched in to an articulate discussion about there being a need for a leader who will speak the truth.  He added that it was about time we called the Palestinian leaders what they really are…”terrorists” and stated, “Reagan believed in the power of truth. I’m a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite, I will tell the truth,” .  Gingrich’s response on this issue demonstrated a sense of resolve and boldness that many voters find refreshing and appealing.
Candidate with the Best Defense LineNewt Gingrich;
When Mitt Romney tried to characterize Newt as a career politician Newt defended his record by looking at Mitt and telling him that the only reason he is not considered a career politician is because he lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.  In this case Newt proved that the best defense is often a good offense.
Most Aggressive CandidateMichele Bachmann;
Bachman coined the name “Newt Romney” when during one answer she repeatedly refereed to Gingrich and Romney in a line of attack that classified them as political insiders who were weak on conservative issues and flip flopped on everything from a federal healthcare mandate to global warming. 
Candidate Who Was the Most Appealing to Iowa’s Important Evangelical Vote: Rick Santorum;
Rick Santorum took every possible opportunity there was to give answers that allowed him to wrap up   his responses up with references to values and the importance of a traditional family.  Santorum did this better than either Perry or Bachmann, and while the other candidates on the stage addressed charges thrown at them, Santorum successfully courted evangelicals and appealed to this very important and powerful Iowa Caucus voting bloc.
Worst Overall PerformanceMitt Romney;
Romney had hoped to put Newt Gingrich on the defensive, but instead, Newt successfully kept Mitt on the defensive, and for the first time in these debates, Romney looked and sounded a bit rattled at times.  Romney also failed to achieve any of the things he needed to in this debate such as shore up his conservative bona fides.  But what really earned Mitt last place in this debate was his $10,000 bet.  It is a bet that he lost even though he wasn’t taken up on it and it will come back to haunt him in the months ahead.
Best Overall PerformanceNewt Gingrich;
Gingrich took the heat and proved he can take it.  He remained calm, cool, collected, and quick-witted, turned several attacks on him in to lines that he successfully used against his opponents, and demonstrated that he has some of that discipline that many claim he lacks.  Overall, Newt did all  he could in this debate.  He looked presidential, demonstrated that he can handle attacks, and did nothing that could have hurt him.

 The Debate

 In what was one of two critical debates before voting in Iowa commences in 24 days, the Republicans presidential candidates put the focus more on one another and less on the issues.  Instead of the candidates focussing on how they could affect the issues, the candidates used the issues to affect the frontrunners chances of winning. 

Most focussed on of all was Newt Gingrich.  Newt was tarred and feathered by his opponents for interpretations of his past positions on healthcare mandates, his approach to the explosive Israel vs. Palestine debate, marital infidelity, and his careers in and and out of politics. But the former Speaker of the House held his own and corrected mischaracterizations of his record by Romney, Perry, and Bachmann, setting the record straight concerning Ron Paul’s interpretation of the consulting that Gingrich did for Fannie Mae, and when it came to his personal life, admitting that he made mistakes and had to repent for those mistakes.

Gingrich’s personal life, specifically in the case of marital infidelity, came to the forefront after moderators asked the other candidate’s to address subtle innuendos in various campaign ads which tout their stable, longstanding marriages and suggest that their marriages are a sign of their good character, while the affairs of Newt are sign of his lack of character.

Many of the candidates admitted that Newt’s failed marriages were in fact signs of Newt’s serious character flaws and to his credit, Rick Perry showed some courage when he spoke words in front of Newt’s face that others would have only said behind his back.   The Texas Governor said;

“I’ve always been of the opinion that if you cheat on your wife you’ll cheat on your business partner, so I think that issue of fidelity is important,”

Mr. Perry the went on to say;

“It’s a characteristic of which people look at other individuals, whether it’s in their business lives, or in their personal lives, or picking someone to serve in public office for them.”

On this issue, after all his rivals had their say, Newt agreed it was a legitimate issue and simply admitted that he has made mistakes and asked God to forgive him.  He then went on to state that he hopes that now as a 68  year old grandfather,  people will judge him on his entire record.
“People have to measure who I am and whether I’m a person they can trust,” he said.
As the new king of the Republican hill, Newt took most of the punches, but in doing so, he also proved that not only can he withstand them, he can pack  a good “issue based” punch of his own.
When a question about a recent statement Gingrich made about Palestinians being a made up people, Congressman Ron Paul was the first to pounce on Newt and said of the statement; 

“That’s just stirring up trouble,”

He then added;

“This is how we get into so many messes. I think it just fails us on a little bit of diplomacy.”

Romney also tried to take advantage of what he had hoped would be an opportunity to make Gingrich seem irrational,  He told the assembled Republicans that “we’re not going to throw incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot.” Romney then went on to imply that Newt was a bombthrower.

But attempts to nail Newt to cross on that issue failed, and in the end Newt handled the question about his statement in a wat that won him the debate.  He stated that he was merely doing what Ronald Reagan used to do, which was to have the courage to tell the truth no matter how unpleasant.

“Reagan believed in the power of truth. I’m a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite, I will tell the truth,” he said.

While Newt took the heat, withstood it, and won the debate, former frontrunner Mitt Romney was not nearly as nimble in defending himself as Newt Gingrich was and to make matters worse, he had his first major debate stumble of this election. It was a stumble caused by Mitt’s mouth forcing him to trip over his own feet.

When trying to prove to Rick Perry that he never never supported a federal mandate  regarding the issue of healthcare, Romney turned Perry, put out his hand, and bet the Texas Governor $10,000 that he was  wrong.

Way to go Mitt!

After three years of going sans tie to prove that he was in touch with the average voter, he successfully pulled a stunt that proved to those voters that he lived in a world that was not anything like their’s.  Few Americans can fathom making a spur of the moment bet for $10,000 just to prove a point.  For his part, Rick Perry did not shake the hand extended to him by Romney for such a bet.   Instead Perry said he was “not a betting man”.  Romney reacted with a shrug and throwing up of his hands as if to indicate, he won because Perry was not  willing to put his money where his mouth is.  But in truth, it was Romney who lost many points for that stunt.

Romney’s $10,000 bet not only gave voters the impression that he had a much more carefree attitude with finances than they do, he also demonstrated that he is out of touch with their plight during these tough economic times.

While his opponents on the stage did not immediately pick up on Romney’s gaffe and run with it, you can bet (pun intended) that there is now a race going on to see which one can turn the moment in to an ad and use it against Romney.

As for the rest of the candidates on the stage, Perry had a few decent moments and no embarrassing moments, but a few awkward ones.  Ron Paul was Ron Paul and he did little to demonstrate that was either more electable or more competent than any of his rivals.

Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum did however perform quite well and make some powerful points that proved themselves  to be the most consistent conservatives on the stage.  That will go a long way in insuring that they remain viable alternatives to Gingrich and Romney in the remaining three weeks of the campaign  leading up to the Iowa Caucuses and it is safe to say that after last night’s performance by Santorum and Bachmann, not only will undecided voters be considering the two of them, the two of them can and will pick up any support that Romney and Gingrich ose in the coming wakes.  That means that you should not be surprised to see one or both of them finish far better than expected when the Caucus is over.

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2 Responses

  1. […] White House 2012, a great stop for everything concerning candidates, culls it down to best and worst moments, with remarks on Mitt Romney’s surprising attempt to get Rick Perry to make a $10,000 bet. […]

  2. […] White House 2012, a great stop for everything concerning candidates, culls it down to best and worst moments, with remarks on Mitt Romney’s surprising attempt to get Rick Perry to make a $10,000 bet. […]

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