Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who won the GOP National Security Debate last night?

GOP National Security Debate, Photo Source: NY Times (linked)

I read the news, so you don't have to!

So who won the GOP contenders National Security Debate as hosted by CNN? Let's do a quick recap of what the major media outlets are saying! (And in some cases what the different reporters at each outlet are saying.)

Washington Post's Stephen Stromberg - "Romney and Gingrich won. Romney because he is still the putative frontrunner and the likely nominee, and he did not mess up tonight. Gingrich because he held his own in the spotlight, unlike some of the previous anti-Romneys in this primary campaign. Otherwise, Perry still looked tired, Bachmann still sounded kooky, Huntsman was still too moderate, Ron Paul was still Ron Paul, and Cain still gave no sense he belonged on stage, even among this cast of characters."

Washington Post's Jonathon Bernstein - "I don’t think Gingrich has any plausible chance of winning the nomination... Beyond that, I agree with what seemed to be the Twitter consensus during the debate that Mitt Romney wasn’t doing especially well. He didn’t offer much to convince reluctant Republicans to resign themselves to him, but he didn’t do much to hurt himself, either. Given that he’s well in the lead, that’s probably an acceptable enough outcome for him. I do think that Perry continues to improve."

Washington Post's  Jennifer Rubin- "Both Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Jon Huntsman were predictably buffoonish, calling for pullout from Afghanistan, cuts in the military and other positions far to the left of the Obama administration. To sum up, then, the winners tonight: Romney, Bachmann, Romney, AEI and Heritage, and Wolf Blitzer. The losers: Cain, Huntsman, Paul. Potential problems: Gingrich on immigration."

Todd Graham for CNN - "Knowing your arguments and facts is one way to gain credibility. Mitt Romney fattened his credibility bank account at the expense of Rick Perry, who supported a no fly zone over Syria."
"on Huntsman made a similar deposit when he stated that sanctions on Iran would not work since "the Chinese aren't going to play ball and the Russians aren't going to play ball," and Iran has already decided to go nuclear."
"Another way to maintain credibility is to cite proof for your arguments. Michele Bachmann has said things in previous debates (President Obama wants Medicare to collapse) and in last night's debate (suggesting that the CIA cannot interrogate terrorist suspects any longer because the ACLU is in charge) that were not very credible. These frequent ATM withdrawals hurt Bachmann because a lack of believability spills over."
"Bachmann called Pakistan "too nuclear to fail," and chastised Perry for being na├»ve when he said he would not give Pakistan one penny until it proved it had America's best interests in mind."  (her naivety accusation was truly a highlight of the evening - in my humble opinion)
"Ron Paul is an enigma. He can provide such thoughtful answers at one time and later interject completely unsubstantiated statements."
"Answering questions with non-answers simply isn't credible. For example, Herman Cain twice last night reached into a very old bag of tricks to answer questions with the standard "I'd consult the experts" line."
"Finally, to save credibility, you should be prepared to defend your position when giving a potentially unpopular answer. Newt Gingrich had two answers that the conservative wing of his party might not like, but he defended them well."

CNN Analyst Gloria Borger -
"And I think tonight we saw the first Newt Gingrich, the more positive Newt Gingrich who sort of had a vision and took on Ron Paul, and the Patriot Act debate. It was very, very interesting -- the intellectual Newt -- but he was appealing, which is something I don't think he's really been before. I think it's probably because he's more relaxed, and he's doing better in the polls and people like him. I think he was more likable this evening."

CNN Contributor Ari Fleischer - "Another debate, another good night for Newt. But the trend here is those who have fallen behind are not coming back up so the question is when the music stops, who is going to be in the not-Romney chair? 78 percent are not locked-in. A lot of time to go."

The NY Times gives a nice recap, but manages to neutrally not give a decisive opinion on who performed the best.

Huffington Post - it is noteworthy that their top main story for the day is ripping Romney's campaign ad to shreds. All stories of the debates are found considerably further down the page.
Mitt Romney's Awkward Exchanges With Humans  (Good thing Ariana Huffington never said she wanted to print an unbiased publication, isn't it?)

Ron Paul on Marijuana (which yes, came out in the debate, but was less than 1 minute of the 2 hour exchange, and hasn't been mentioned by any other publications)

Wall Street Journal's live blog on the debate concluded with - "But no clear winner emerged in tonight's Republican national security debate.
"As much as anything, the debate was about presenting a potential commander-in-chief to the voting public as it was about discussing the vagaries of foreign policy. Newt Gingrich, perhaps mindful of his front-runner status, kept his confrontational style in check. Rick Perry used a Reaganesque zinger in response to his rival, Mitt Romney. Herman Cain managed to avoid mangling the name of any foreign head of state (although he did invent a new nickname for moderator Wolf Blitzer: "Blitz")."

James Picht for the Washington Times - "Tonight's debate highlighted fundamental differences between the candidates, and it was both interesting and instructive. The strongest differences remain those between two of them, Huntsman and Paul, and all the rest. Gingrich is a clear voice for subordinating everything to national security, Paul a clear voice for subordinating everything to the Constitution."

Also for the Washington Times is conservative commentator Eric Golub -  (I've shortened his excellent recap down, but kept the purpose and integrity of his statements)
In analyzing who "won" the debate, the problem is that some supporters (mainly those supporting Ron Paul) declare him the winner because they already supported him to begin with.
Newt Gingrich is a policy master. He was a big winner.
Rick Santorum is solid on policy and also was a big winner.
Michelle Bachmann shined. Her detractors love to make her out to be "crazy," but she was very cerebral, especially on Pakistan.
Mitt Romney keeps holding serve. He just does not make mistakes, and even his rarest of slip-ups are so minor he escapes. He wins by not losing ground. He held his ground, and that is sufficient.
Ron Paul supporters worship him, but they will not acknowledge that a large segment of the GOP, represented by most of the other candidates on stage, will not support him. His phrasing on Aids in Africa could hurt him, since he was all about preserving human lives.
Herman Cain was tentative the whole night. He is a good man who had a bad night. He does not seem to be able to acquit himself well in foreign policy discussions.

Jon Huntsman had one very good answer to one question. The rest of the debate he should have just kept quiet rather than having his lips move while saying nothing.

As for me and my thoughts? You can read them here, where I had a little fun live-facebooking the event. (I've done this for each of the debates.)
Herman Cain- failed to score any points, and proved he's not good for national security
Mitt Romney- didn't win points, didn't lose points. He continues to always just look good, but isn't winning new support over.
Rick Perry- Lost credibility almost every time he spoke.
Michele Bachmann - came off as smart, knowledgeable, and credible. But she won't gain support because what's the point in getting behind the losing team now?
Jon Huntsman - will make an excellent Secretary of State to someone else, and proved that well.
Newt Gingrich- I don't know. I think he alienated a lot of people, and yet may have attracted a few moderates. He lost a little of my support though on his Patriot Act views.
Rick Santorum - I have no opinions.
Ron Paul- his supporters love him. The rest of us wish he'd just shut up.

Washington Post Readers Opinion Poll

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