Perry had his best debate of the season, although to be fair, that’s not exactly saying a great deal, but he didn’t seem to fall asleep after the half-way mark, and he didn’t stumble through any lists, in part by avoiding them. Gingrich absolutely clobbered Juan Williams who looked like a man besieged as the crowd erupted into thunderous applause that went well beyond the cut to commercials according to people on the scene. Gingrich seemed to return to form, staying primarily positive, and taking on the media, including the noteworthy exchange with Juan Williams. I’d be willing to say that on style as well as substance, you would be right to give the nod to Newt Gingrich as the “victor,” whatever that means in this context.
The replay of Williams being booed is worth it:
Ron Paul’s inability to articulate his views on national defense really hurt him Monday night, because when he stumbled and stammered a bit through one long answer(to which Perry aptly remarked he should have gotten “the gong”,) he seemed to lose track, and it showed he wasn’t as quick on the turnaround as most would hope, and while I think I understood what he was trying to say, it’s only because I’ve seen him say it more effectively and much more cogently before. Tonight, he fell flat.
Rick Santorum gave a decent performance, and when he confronted Romney on the question of voting rights for paroled felons who had done their time, he came across as holding Romney’s feet to the fire. Of course, you could see his set-up coming, but it worked, and Romney looked foolish in most respects on the issue, because in the end it was revealed that he did nothing while Governor to advance his stance, meaning it’s not a sincere position. Romney came off sounding snide and petulant, and a bit arrogant too.
Speaking of Mitt Romney, as I pointed out in a blog posting Monday night, if he won’t tell us what’s in his tax return now, before we vote for him, there’s no reason on earth that we should. Period. He gave a number of other well-rehearsed answers, but he really came across as plastic, as usual. He really seemed under duress over the whole Tax Returns question, and with good reason. Every voter in South Carolina and around the country should now be suspicious unless they simply like living under a rock.
All in all, I liked the debate only because it was less crowded and allowed for more full responses, and it was less littered by ridiculous questions formulated in some leftist dungeon. As we get closer to the South Carolina primary, just a few days away, this will help generally because it was before a South Carolina crowd, and it revealed one particular thing about one candidate: Mitt Romney doesn’t want his tax return filings out, and you and I know there must be a good reason for it. He got nervous, because there was a bit of blood in the water and he was happy to change the subject to anything else. I think we need to put pressure on him on this point precisely.