Other than the always cringe-worthy responses of Ron Paul, no Republican President candidate hurt themselves last night in the CNN/Heritage Foundation/American Enterprise Institute moderated by Wolf Blitzer (and moderated well).
In my opinion, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney probably tied as debate “winners,” but the real pleasant surprise of the event was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who gave a solid and substantive performance.
Like Ed, I suspect that if Perry’s previous debates had all been this solid Perry would have the lock on front-runner status. Of course, Perry has been disastrous on stage previously which has dropped him to fourth place despite easily having the best actual and most current record of executive experience in the GOP field. I expect post-debate polling to show Newt and Mitt 1-2, with Perry’s strong performance perhaps edging him back towards “Top Three” status.
Herman Cain gave another vague performance that went a long way towards solidifying the view that he simply doesn’t have enough grasp of basic policy fundamentals to be an effective President. I expect Cain to slip more, though I don’t know if he will lose enough support to drop past Perry.
When it comes to the other candidates – Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman and Paul – I would suggest it is time for them to consider throwing in the towel. It was a nice run, folks, but you’re not in serious contention for anything other than an outside shot at a minor cabinet post.Quit wasting money.
We already have a President for that.