Thoughts on the CNN Republican Debate

-By Warner Todd Huston

Well the CNN debate of some of the GOP candidates for president is now in the history books and I thought I’d give my impression of those vying there.

Before I do that, I have to comment on John King’s constant guttural vocal tick. It sounded like he had Tourette Syndrome with the grunts and other noises. He was an utter failure as a moderator. His annoying grunts HAVE to go. It was also clear that his goal was not to hear what the candidates wanted to say, but that he wanted them to attack each other. He was constantly trying to pit them against each other. Fortunately, they did not take the bait for the most part. This was a civil debate, for sure. But if anyone failed tonight it was John King.

The debate format was rotten, too. This 30-second limit on answers for complex issues is absurd. I am glad that about halfway through the thing the time limit went by the wayside.

Now Let’s take the candidates as they appeared on the stage. Rick Santorum gets a B for his grade. He directly answered nearly every question directly, succinctly and with conviction. He acquitted himself well, I think.

Michelle Bachmann made herself seem like a very serious candidate tonight. She was good on both specifics and the big picture themes. If anyone thought she would be the comedy relief tonight, she proved them woefully wrong. Bachmann gets an A tonight. She also announced that she is 100% in for the hunt for the White House right on stage, too.

Newt Gingrich did well. He gets a B. I am not sure he hit it out of the park, but he offered serious questions and saw through CNN’s thinly veiled attempts to spin the questions in a left-wing direction.

Mitt Romney did a middling job. I fault him for not answering some of the questions directly. For instance, he never did say if he’d raise the debt ceiling. He weaseled around that one, for sure. He did that enough times to earn a B- from me.

Tim Pawlenty did an excellent job. He gets an A. He was on top of the issues and his answers were both specific and good on the larger conservative memes. This debate showed that TPaw must be taken seriously. I disagree with those that say that Pawlenty did badly. Although I agree that he didn’t knock Romney off the block.

Ron Paul… well, he’s Ron Paul. In general he did well enough. But he is just wrong for America. I give him a C.

Herman Cain failed pretty badly tonight. He gets a D, sadly. He talked in generalities, he never seemed to have any specifics and his go to answer was “we need to look this over to see if we are on the right track.” Well, DUH, Mr. Cain! That goes without saying. Most people that are running for president, though, have at least a few solutions ready to try out. That’s why we are voting for them! This is sad because I very much like Cain. He did well in the first debate. In this one he did not.

So, there you have it. Bachmann and Pawlenty came out the best with Newt and Santorum coming in second and Mitt third.


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  • Thank you for commenting on the annoying noises John King kept making during the candidates turns to speak. At first I thought he was trying to interrupt them to tell them their time was up, but as those noises continued, it really bugged me!
    Also, I agree the format was terrible. Why not have a light or buzzer when the time was up instead of having to try to vocally interrupt the speaker. This was just asinine. Also, I agree it was obvious King wanted to stir up trouble between them. I did like the candidates showing, however; and I hope they learned from each other when they saw what drew favorable audience reactions.
    I thought the last Republican debate on Fox was run much better.

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