Rick Perry stole the show, but not in a good way. It was the ninth GOP presidential debate. This one took place in Michigan and focused exclusively on economic issues.
All eyes were on Herman Cain, but a mid-debate brain freeze by Rick Perry will be the most remembered occurrence of the two-hour broadcast and will be replayed continuously for years to come. It was that bad.
Here is a look at how each of the eight candidates fared, plus winners and losers:
Michele Bachmann: It’s basically the same story as most of the previous debates. Bachmann did fine. She offered detailed, substantive answers. However, she was lost in the shuffle. Nothing she said really stood out, so she did not move the needle with this performance. Bachmann was basically an afterthought.
Herman Cain: He answered almost every question with “9-9-9”. That worked a few debates ago, but people are looking for a little more substance and Cain did not provide it. The audience loved his answer about the Dodd-Frank bill, saying two of the three problems are “Dodd and Frank”.
Cain also referred to Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy” at one point. The audience liked it and his campaign tweeted the quote out. However, Cain was asked about the appropriateness of the comment during a CNBC interview immediately after the debate. He backtracked. “That was a statement that I probably should not have made,” Cain said. Overall, it’s a mixed bag. If you like Cain, you liked this performance. If you want substance on the issues, you were probably not impressed.
Newt Gingrich: Once again, the former House Speaker owned the stage. He did not completely dominate, but it is hard to argue that anyone other than Gingrich won the debate. He battled with the moderators again and might have come off as too angry at times. However, on style and substance, Newt delivered. Again.
Jon Huntsman: I’m racking my brain trying to remember something significant that he said.
Ron Paul: I thought Paul added a lot to this debate. He was sensible and knowledgeable. The Texas congressman did well.
Rick Perry: For the first hour and 15 minutes, this was the Texas governor’s best performance. He gave solid answers, seemed more comfortable than usual, and showed a bit of fire. Then it all collapsed.
The “Perry Plunge” happened when he turned to Ron Paul and tried to tell him which three federal departments he would cut. “Commerce, education, and the uh, what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”
It only got worse from there. Perry tried in vain for what seemed like an eternity to remember the third agency. He never did. And his campaign will never recover. It was one of the worst moments in political debate history. Nothing else he said mattered.
Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor owned the home field advantage and also received the most airtime. For the most part, Romney did well. The CNBC moderators did a good job grilling him. Romney faced questions about flip-flops, as well as trying to answer for RomneyCare. It was not a completely smooth performance, but nothing too damaging. He had a few good lines, including slamming the Democrats with “They want jobs but they don’t like business.” Overall, Romney performed well enough to maintain his frontrunner status.
Rick Santorum: When given the chance to talk, the former Pennsylvania senator did well. As usual, he offered in depth answers. Santorum has usually been the attack dog in the debates, but either was not given the opportunity or decided not to use that tactic this time. For the time he was given, Santorum did well.
Overall Winner: Newt Gingrich. This is getting redundant. He did not dominate, but Gingrich was the most in command of anyone on the stage.
Overall Loser: Rick Perry. He needed this debate to revive his floundering campaign. Instead, he sunk it. It’s over. Rick Perry’s candidacy is one of the most colossal flops in presidential history. He will not recover from this gaffe.
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