I’m going to score this on a 10 pt must system
WINNER Herman Cain 10.0: Answered questions directly and drew complements from other candidates, pushed his plan that is simple enough to understand. Needed to be noticed and was.
Rick Santorum 9.9: Strong answers and strong punches landed on Paul and Perry, had one so so answer that kept him behind Cain, spent a lot of time in a mutual admiration society with Gingrich.
Michelle Bachmann/Newt Gingrich 9,8: Both did what they had to do, Bachmann started slow but was strong and not shy about throwing punches, The contribution angle is going to smart because of the Palin follow-up. Great Obamacare answer too. Gingrich excelled again and simply needed to stay relevant, If I had to give an edge to one it would be Bachmann because she had more to lose.
Mitt Romney 9.7 : Fairly solid performance, the experience of running before really helps. He had one or two weak answers but outpointed Perry which is all that matters. Because he is comfortably ahead of the people who did better than he did it’s not a problem, at least not yet.
Rick Perry 9.6: Hesitated a bit at first but settled down but was a constant target and was hit solidly and it showed. It was not enough that it will cost him the lead but he was clearly off-balance. How he comes back in the next debate will really determine how he can take a punch.
Ron Paul 9.2 I can’t understand how he didn’t go back to that Fed question that he wasn’t asked that was a mistake, other than that he was himself. He handled the medical question very well, but the Bin Laden question really hurt him for the general public but Paul is not about to be something he is not. He likely cost himself consideration among the general public, but Paul will not pander and answered honestly. I can’t see what else he could have done.
Jon Huntsman 9.1: It takes a lot of effort to do a worse job than someone who is unwilling to absolve American from blame on 9/11 but Huntsman managed to do it. His “Treason” comment on Perry sounded contrived, although he referenced his plan he did a poor job of making it clear. His driver license answer while hitting Perry didn’t work and his Afghanistan answer was horrid. But the media loves him so he’ll be back.
Tea party 9.8 Most questions were solid and I liked starting with the national anthem, no horns on anyone’s head and people who watched the debate and the tea party members didn’t see a bunch of racists unless they were already in Andre Carson land.
CNN 9.6 Started slow and I thought he could steer the questions slightly better but Wolf wasn’t bad. Best debate to date.
Bottom line: The difference between the top 6 was close enough that it won’t move much, Bachmann did enough to keep her in it, and we need to see if Perry can keep taking hits, Romney is helped by the minor candidates all doing well.
Update: Stacy Points to a key moment:
It fell to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a favorite of many social conservatives, to point out the difference between Gardasil and other vaccinations. “Ladies and gentlemen, why do we inoculate people with vaccines in public schools? Because we’re afraid of those diseases being communicable between people at school. And therefore to protect the rest of the people at school, we have vaccinations to protect those children. Unless Texas has a very progressive way of communicating diseases in their schools… then there is no government purpose served for having little girls inoculated at the coercion of the government. It is big government run amok. It is bad policy and it should not be done.”
This is a real problem for Perry, in the primaries and every debate he is going to be hit again and again on this.