GOP Debate 9.22.11: The Grades Are In...

There's little room for doubt. As much as it pains me to say it, professional campaigner Mitt Romney won this one. As an honorary member of the "anybody but Mitt" club, I have to say that Mitt did exactly what he needed to do in this debate, which was to look presidential.

Mitt gave smooth, polished answers. He made no mistakes. He lied convincingly about Romneycare (i.e. "nothing" changed for people in Massachusetts who were already insured). Most importantly, Romney looked like someone who could go toe-to-toe with Obama and win.

Having said all that, I wouldn't necessarily say that "Obamney" performed better than everyone else in debate. He won with the inertia of several years of campaigning -- but he didn't say anything particularly powerful, original or inspiring.

Without further ado, the grades:

Bachmann C-
Cain A-
Gingrich B+
Huntsman C+
Johnson B
Paul B
Perry D+
Romney A-
Santorum B-


Bachmann said very little that will be remembered. Her prior comments on the HPV vaccine and retardation came back to haunt her again, and her defense of those remarks was thoroughly forgettable.

Cain: Great lines, great delivery, great defense of conservative principles. Cain got his mojo back.

Gingrich: His great intellect always shines, but he debated like someone vying for a VP nod. Whose VP does he want to be?

Huntsman: I can't think of anything interesting to say about Huntsman. Can anyone?

Johnson made a bigger dent in this debate. He also demonstrated that he has a sense of humor.

Ron Paul gave several very thoughtful answers to difficult questions. I'd say this was easily his best performance in a GOP debate this year.

Rick Perry barely passed this one. One of the reasons Romney looked so good is that Perry did so badly. Perry's answers were awkward and rambling. He seemed sleep-deprived and unprepared. He said nothing profound, interesting or memorable. He defended himself poorly on the issue of in-state tuition breaks for illegal aliens.

Being in the "anybody but Obamney" camp, I'd like to see Perry do better in the future. But Perry really lowered expectations in this debate.

Romney: see above.

Santorum made some good points, but did very little to stand out, aside from his very effective attack on Rick Perry for Perry's stance on in-state tuition breaks for illegal aliens.

*Speaking for myself only!

Discussion: Memeorandum


  1. Totally agree re: Perry's performance, (stiff, awkward, almost spooky) also agree that this was Paul's best so far, I wonder if he will get a bounce from this?

  2. Thanks for the summary, LCP. Glad to see Ron did a little better...

  3. @LCR

    I'd say a bounce is certainly possible.

  4. Agree on Perry, looked up during one attack on Romney and I swear I thought he was drunk.
    I am prejudiced against Santorum, he really just bugs me, and I can't put my finger on it.
    I was really hoping for Gary Johnson to do even better, sometimes he looks a little goofy.

  5. Other than Cain, these debates are frightening to me. This isn't a GOP debate, it's a RINO debate. None of them are true conservatives and shown to be weak against the cultural and political war machine of the left. Perry came off terrible because he was showing his true colors: a tax and spend liberal who will mandate any program that he, the wise one, determines is best for us. Sorry we have one of those in office right now and we don't need another one. Rommy may come off sounding "presidential" but he's no different than the leftist. Romney Care is the only reason for me to never trust nor vote for the man. Buchman is just plain bat crazy. Newt, he had his chance when he was speaker and broke his contract with America the moment he took the gavel. He and Nancy, the parahna Pelosi deserve each other. The others make the invisible man seem loud in color in comparison. There's too much at stake in this election. Other than Perry's Dream Act, there's nothing about illegal aliens, border security, the expansion of the government, especially the alarming growth of powers of the EPA, FDA, and the DHS with the TSA, nothing about the wars, the rising threat from China, Iran, or even Russia as Putin may become president there again. If we get another RINO or compassionate conservative, the dire consequences for the Republic, things will be no different than an Obama 2nd term. It just will be a slower bleeding to death.

  6. @madmath1

    Romney scares me. He seems almost unstoppable at this point. And to a great extent, he's selling the same BS as Obama.

  7. The “heart” statement cost Perry the nomination, mark my words. A bunch of good Americans, who would prefer their tax dollars be directed to Americans, were insulted in one fell swoop. At that point, I think the “anybody but Romney” crowd began reconsidering other candidates — and, perhaps, are reconsidering their strong positions on Romney.

    At this point, put me in the “anybody but Huntsman” camp, and I hope we get a couple of new contenders shortly.

  8. I have been tirelessly trying to stay undecided. My takeaways were similar to yours except for two points.

    Ron Paul and Gary Johnson beat expectations. If Johnson had started off with the dogs line, he may have jumped in the polls by the end. Ron Paul should have answered the VP question to show willingness to work with his collegues.

    Herman Cain's "debating" is improving faster than the rest of the pack. I expect his numbers to trend up.

  9. I'm siding with madmath1 on this.

    These aren't Conservatives. They are merely the pale specters of GOP ideals with that certain RINO twist for some centrist flavor.

    The GOP isn't that grand any longer. Conservatism is now in the hands and hearts of common America, far removed from the corruption of politics.

    Long Live the Republic, indeed.


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