After having to stomach the two hours of debate tonight from Iowa, it appears that there was no clear winner from tonight's debate-- at least no one who was actually on the stage. Let's take a look at the candidates tonight:
1. Herman Cain: A strong debate performance, but overshadowed by Romney, Gingrich, and the Pawlenty-Bachmann feud. He can remain the race but needed a better response.
2. Rick Santorum: Forceful clarity when rebutting Ron Paul and on the budget. Wasted time and momentum talking about social issues that are not as much of a concern as the economy. Good debate, but is still behind in the polls.
3. Jon Huntsman: Are you kidding? Overall, a pretty piss-poor performance. He really doesn't seem to be much of anything or anyone.
4. Newt Gingrich: Considering I don't like Newt, he probably had the best overall performance of the folks on the stage. Slapped down Chris Wallace and actually talked about balancing the budget.
5. Ron Paul: Fucking crazy. Enough said.
6. Tim Pawlenty: Attempted a Hail Mary pass tonight-- made a good joke about coming to make dinner or mow a lawn but staked everything else on attacking Bachmann. He got her off her talking points and exposed some animosity, but he fizzled badly. Also avoided attacking Romney when given the chance. He might be out of the race.
7. Michele Bachmann: Came off as flaky and ineffective. She claimed to 'lead' the fight against the debt ceiling raising-- and as Governor Pawlenty pointed out, failed. Her 'leadership' on the debt ceiling led 20 House members on the GOP side and failed in her task of not raising it. Pawlenty opened a wound that Perry may use against her.
8. Mitt Romney: Didn't say much and was still smarmy and scripted. Still, no major gaffes, and was not attacked much. Of the candidates on the stage-- Romney came out best, but did not gain much.
Overall, the debate was almost a bit of a farce. A fair amount of infighting and not much actually discussed on policy, similar to the 2007 Democratic debates that did not even vet Barack Obama.
So the winner of tonight's debate:
The debate opened a major gap that none of the candidates can fill. He would fill in the religiousity of Bachmann, the foreign policy of Santorum, the experience of Pawlenty, and the economic experience of Romney.