The announced or nearly-announced Republican candidates for president held their first major debate tonight, broadcast on CNN. We’ve got a long road to go before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, but the candidates made some initial impressions on me—all good.
1. They are far more impressive as a group than anybody—including fellow conservatives—has given them credit for. Some candidates are more conservative than others, but all are supremely qualified to be president of the United States. Each is hugely accomplished, smart, thoughtful, and engaged. Some have significant records of achievement in the private sector. Some have used their platforms in government to implement dynamic free market and limited government principles. Any of them would be a far better president than the current one, and any of them would set this country back on its traditional rocket path of growth and greatness.
2. Gingrich is brilliant and gutsy. Bachmann is fearless, poised, tough. Romney has been around this track before and finessed the questions and the stage. Pawlenty is the calm guy with the solid gubernational record. Cain is the straight-talking and blessedly non-politician. Paul is no-nonsense with a sense of humor. Santorum is the professional pol who navigated each question with ease. Some have certain strengths—good records of governance or job creation. Some have weaknesses—creating the template for ObamaCare, ahem. But tonight, all showed themselves ready for primetime.
3. CNN’s moderator, John King, seeped with more left-wing bias than a slime prank on Nickelodeon. He practically begged the GOP candidates to say something nice about Obama: “Can’t you point to one thing he’s done right on the economy?” “Um…no, which is why we’re all up here, John.” And what was with all of those waste-of-time “Beatles or Stones?” “tastes great or less filling?” questions. The country is going to hell in a handbasket, but King wants to know if they’re on Team Angelina or Team Jen. I wished that one of the candidates had told him to stop trying to “help” them with those ridiculous “humanizing” questions. They don’t need CNN’s help to show voters that unlike the current White House occupant, they’re actually normal.
Overall, I was quite pleased with what we saw tonight: a smart, essentially conservative, and dynamic group of GOP candidates who need a bit more fine-tuning but any one of whom will be ready to take on Obama.
And after all: remember that Obama looked like an over-his-head twirp in his early Democrat debates. Our folks stand head and shoulders above.