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Elijah Friedeman: Last night's debate - the CliffNotes version
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 10:48 AM
Elijah Friedeman, The Millennial Perspective
If you missed the debate, but don't feel like reading dozens of reactions from political pundits, here is the CliffNotes version of what happened.
Pretty much every candidate had a specific objective they need to accomplish through this debate (name recognition, dealing with baggage, sparking a failing campaign). Each candidate did well, but only maybe one or two candidates will benefit much because of last night.
Outside of the obvious, jobs and economy emphases, more or less, the theme was, "It's for the kids!" In most of the introductions, the candidates mentioned kids or grandkids, and how we must preserve America for those young people. Herman Cain, in his closing comments, reiterated that message.
I haven't heard anyone else mention this, so I'm not sure how many people actually saw it. I was watching the online feed from CNN, and after the candidates came out and waved, then went behind their podiums, there was what seemed to be an ad break, but I could still see and hear the feed. Someone in the audience yelled out a few words, then someone else, and everyone stood up to say the Pledge of Allegiance. It sounded like one of the candidates led the Pledge, but it was hard to tell.
Be honest, would an impromptu, crowd-instigated recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance have happend at a Democratic primary debate? For that matter, would it have happened any other year at a GOP primary debate?
Mitt Romney. Simply because he did well, weathered questions about Romneycare, and came off looking polished and presidential. If you're the frontrunner, it doesn't take much to be a winner.
Michele Bachmann exceeded my expectations. She did a great job of showing how she had worked to solve the important issues of the day, and she didn't come off looking like a crazy.
Tim Pawlenty. Just a day after minting the word "Obamneycare", Pawlenty wasn't willing to actually take ownership of it and go after Romney. Instead he blamed Obama for that term. He came off looking really weak.
"I'm not a politician. I'm a problem-solver." - Herman Cain
"I filed ... my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today, and I'll very soon be making my formal announcement." - Michele Bachmann
"I hate to be the one to give you the bad news, Doctor. You’re not going to get most of the money you put into Medicare if we don’t restructure it." - Herman Cain
Worst thing about the debate:
Moderator John King asked what he called a "this or that" question of a candidate going to and coming from the breaks. The first "this or that" was directed to Santorum. "Leno or Conan?" Bachmann got "Elvis or Johnny Cash?" Pawlenty was on the receiving end of this humdinger: "Coke or Pepsi?"
I know King just wanted to add some levity to the evening. But while our country's dealing with a $14 trillion plus debt load and massive entitlement programs, I didn't think it was the best use of time.
Who was missing:
The seven-person debate featured a largely completed Republican primary field. But when the next debate rolls around, I think there will be two additional candidates on stage. Texas Governor Rick Perry and Sarah Palin will likely announce their candidacies before too long
Biggest play for headlines:
It wasn't Pawlenty's admission that he prefers Coke over Pepsi, believe it or not. The winner here was obviously Bachmann's announcement that she officially filed as a candidate for the presidency.
Romney - Polished; Bachmann - Surprising; Cain - Fresh; Pawlenty - Weak; Gingrich - Who?; Paul - Stodgy; Santorum - Average.
Biggest missed opportunity:
Pawlenty's failure to get after Romney. Pawlenty is continually polling low among GOP primary voters, and needs to do something to gain traction. He just didn't do it, though. He may be the only candidate to lose support because of this debate.
Not a whole lot will change because of this debate. But the lines are now drawn and from here on out it's a race to the finish line.
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