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Impressions of Tonight’s Debate

The GOP presidential debate is coming to a close. Here are some random thoughts:

* I doubt that many people saw it. My wife wasn’t able to find it on television, and finally tracked it down on the internet, when it was half done. So the impact is likely to be slight.

* Mitt Romney did very well again. He comes across as strong, reassuring, articulate, experienced, knowledgeable. At one point, other candidates peppered him with questions. That helped Romney, I think–he came across as the candidate who matters. He also defended Romneycare more passionately than I have seen before. His pitch in his closing statement for a strong America was powerful, given the breaking news on Iran’s apparent terrorist plot inside the U.S.

* Herman Cain was very good. He took incoming fire tonight because of his standing in the polls, but he gave at least as good as he got. What is striking to me about Cain’s candidacy is the fact that he battles on even terms with the other candidates. He isn’t the black candidate, like Barack Obama. The rationale of his candidacy isn’t his skin color, it is his proposals for the economy–proposals that are well grounded because of his life spent with great success in the private sector. His role in this campaign is transgressive, to borrow a word that leftists love.

* Rick Perry, during the half of the debate that I saw, bordered on invisible. I don’t know whether the pundits who say this was make or break for Perry are right, but it certainly was not a strong night for him. One thing that strikes me as odd is how little mileage Perry gets out of his job creation record in Texas. He mentioned it a time or two, but, as in prior debates, he didn’t use it effectively as the foundation of his claim to be the strongest candidate.

* Michele Bachmann did fine, but her fade is probably inevitable.

* Since foreign policy was out of bounds, Ron Paul was on his best behavior and came across as sane and lucid. When Paul has a good night, you know it’s a good event for the GOP. Too bad no one was watching.

* Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were pretty much in the shade. That’s OK for Newt, whose career will get a boost from his participation in the race.

* Jon Huntsman was…Jon who? Was he there tonight?

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