GOP Debate Recap

The New Hampshire debate is winding down, and my general impression is that all of the candidates did pretty well. Mitt Romney was a winner, as he came across like a senior statesman and none of the other candidates attacked him. All apparently were obeying Reagan’s 11th commandment. Michele Bachmann shone early, not so much during the second half, but on the whole undoubtedly generated some excitement. Newt Gingrich reminded us how good he can be in this debate format. Rick Santorum and Herman Cain did fine. Ron Paul, whom in general I don’t like, was collegial and made several positive contributions. Tim Pawlenty–my favorite, as our readers know–did fine, but in my judgment didn’t break out.
The overall impression, I think, was of a united front, determined to make Barack Obama a one-term president. That is a good thing. There was a basic conflict of interest between the candidates and CNN, which hosted the debate. The candidates wanted to talk about the economy. CNN led with 20 minutes or so on the economy, then shifted to the social issues, immigration, foreign policy, etc. One could sense television sets switching off across America as the evening wore on. So I don’t think the debate represented a breakthrough for any of the candidates individually, with the possible exception of Michele Bachmann–time will tell–but it was a pretty good night for the cause of conservatism and constitutional government.