Mitt Romney won the debates tonight hands down. Some of my readers might accuse me of being biased since I am enthusiastic supporter of him and have volunteered for his campaign. However, I'm not the only one who came to the conclusion that Romney's was the clear winner of the debate tonight.
Ron Fournier of the National Journal points out that Mitt Romney was the winner because none of the other 2012 contenders were willing to take Mitt Romney on:
The mitts were off Mitt. Romney received a pass from a strikingly timid field of rivals in Monday night's debate. Given chances to attack the early front-runner on health care reform, abortion and his history of flip-flopping, the rest of the GOP field pulled its punches. At one point, moderator John King asked if it was time to put the issue of Romney's authenticity to rest. That's like asking a lion whether it's time to stop chasing deer, and yet King's question went unanswered save for one barely audible, "Yes" from one of the candidates. There's a rule of thumb in political debates: When a front-runner leaves the stage unscathed, he's still the front-runner. And, thus, regardless of the sound and fury of the debate itself, he wins.
Michale Barone, writing for the Washington Post, explained why he thought Mitt Romney was the winner of tonight's debate:
Mitt Romney. In an early interchange on Tim Pawlenty’s disparagement of “Obamromneycare” Romney came out far ahead—and established a sense of command (a vital presidential quality) over Pawlenty and the other candidates. Romney came up with a good line—Obama never called me and asked my advice—and said that he would have said that Obamacare wouldn’t work. Pawlenty was on the defensive, saying that he was only responding to a question phrased in a particular way, and missed the chance to nail Romney for backing a mandate to buy health insurance—the feature of Obamacare which is now under attack in court by a majority of state governments. The subject never came up again, which is to Romney’s advantage. In addition, Romney gave good solid answers on several other questions, well tailored to the format demanding brief answers, on various issues. Notable among them was his defense of his opposition to the GM and Chrysler bailout, where he stood up for the rule of law and against turning over ownership shares to the United Auto Workers. On the debt ceiling, he launched a well justified attack on Barack Obama for not leading. I thought he misfired on one not very important issue, saying that eminent domain should not be used for private companies, when the question raised the issue whether it should be used for public utilities, which traditionally have had eminent domain-like powers to build electric transmission lines; but that doesn’t matter much in this context. Overall Romney showed a clear sense of command and directed well-aimed attacks at Barack Obama and his administration. He was well prepared for the format and did better than I thought.
Romney was on his game — smooth, relaxed, and unflappable. He did well in the debates in 2008, but benefited tonight from his increased stature in the context of the rest of field. In 2008, he was up against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, strong personalities with real gravity, and Mike Huckabee, a fellow first-time candidate who is a natural performer. He was also helped by the unwillingness of anyone to take him on, most notably Tim Pawlenty on the “Obamneycare” charge. If Pawlenty wasn’t willing to back up that line in person, he shouldn’t have said it on TV Sunday.
Not only was Mitt Romney declared the winner by the media, but seasoned political warriors could agree that Romney was tonight's winner. National Journal talked to both Republican and Democratic insiders to get their professional opinion on who won that night and they all agreed that Mitt was the clear winner of that debate.
As you can see, I'm not the only one who thought Mitt Romney won tonight. He won by setting himself apart from the rest of the other Republican candidates by giving clear and straightforward answers. Mitt Romney was also helped by the fact that none of the other candidates dared to attack Romney. I think many of the candidates will come to regret that choice, especially Tim Pawlenty who was given a few opportunities to attack Mitt but couldn't do it. That will haunt him for the rest of the campaign.
However, it wasn't like Mitt Romney was given softball answers. There were plenty of questions ranging from gay marriage, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Afghanistan and Iraq, illegal immigration that were definite minefields for each of these candidates. Mitt Romney navigated through them with very little difficulty.
I would have to agree that Michelle Bachmann was the second place winner tonight. She started out by announcing her candidacy during the beginning of the show and managed to pass by the other candidates both in substance and style. I was really impressed with her and I think she will be the candidate Mitt Romney may have to worry about in the future.
The biggest loser tonight was Tim Pawlenty. The fact that he came out swinging against Romney by attacking him on his health care program on a television program prior to the debates and refusing the opportunity to double down on his statement makes him look weak, gutless and cowardly. It was supposed to be a defining moment for him and people will no doubt look at him in a negative light. Aside from his refusal to attack Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty's overall performance both in substance and style was a major let down. He didn't rock the house like people hoped he would.
The other biggest loser was Newt Gingrich. He didn't look like he was having fun there. He had a scowl on his face the whole time. That doesn't win any points for him on style. As for substance, he didn't shine through despite his reputation as eloquent and intelligent speaker and debater. He lost a lot of points on substance too.
I don't have any thing to say about Ron Paul. He was no different. He may have wowed his libertarian base but nobody else cared for what he said.
I don't have much to say about Herman Cain or Rick Santorum either. Both performed better than Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul but lost to Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann. As a result, neither one doesn't come out as a loser or a winner in tonights debate.
I'm a bit disappointed that Gary Johnson and Jon Hunstsman were not at tonight's debate. I think they would have helped spice up the night and made the debates more livelier. Moreover, it would have helped to give America a chance to see who these men are. Perhaps that's why supporters of Gary Johnson are quite pissed about the fact that he was not invited to tonight's debat because he couldn't get above the 2% average in CNN's poll. There were no expressions of unhappiness from Huntsman supporters (if there are any) outside the debate.
What do you think about tonight's debate? Who do you think the winners and losers of the debate were?