It was an interesting exchange on CNN yesterday evening. The Obama Administration and his political operatives must have enjoyed just about every minute of it. Mitt Romney almost came undone a few times. Rick Perry still in the game but not completely up to par; some of my political operatives friends say he is now toast.
Ron Paul kept steering the focus back to fundamentals. Newt, what can one say? He is the brightest one up there. Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann held their own and scored a few. Herman Cain, cool and collected; no major errors.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper and CNN accomplished what they set out to do, create atmospherics amongst the candidates rather than talk about the issues that matter such as the Obama Administration’s abject failure to lead during the past few years. Newt’s answer toward the end of the debate, “maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House” was my favorite line of the night, and the most relevant.
But in the end folks, this was not a debate in the classic sense of what a debate is supposed to be. These sessions the past few weeks are performances, not forums to discuss important issues or truly vet the candidates. At times, they remind me of a stage show or an adult version of school yard playground banter to see who can come up with the best one liner, or in the case of Romney v. Perry, zingers.
Not sure if there were clear winners, but the only substantive discussion focused on Herman Cain’s 999 plan. If that is the measure of a winner, then Cain clearly won. He held his own, despite the barrage, and at times disrespectful and pedantic volley of counterargument by folks on stage. Arguing for a new tax system in a presidential primary campaign is bold idea that could cost him politically in the long-run, but if he can grow as a candidate and polish these policy positions, it could also translate into more support as we head into 2012.