Reactions to the CNN Western Debate

Last night, the Republican Candidates met in Las Vegas, NV. First and foremost, as an overview, I must say this was quite probably the most entertaining debate yet. Even Anderson Cooper failed to drive me crazy during the debate and Ron Paul forgot to sound crazy 15% of the time (limited it 5%). Oh and Jon Huntsman stayed home, which was nice, because it meant I wasn’t having my time wasted during this debate listening to him drone.  So now it's time for everyone's favorite stock market analogy, "Buy, Hold, Sell, Sell All or Sold," with my last debate reaction in italics:

Michelle Bachmann – Hold (Sell):

Congresswoman Bachmann was articulate and said some good things in this debate. Unfortunately she didn’t really have any great moments that really made her stand out. I think she’s dropped off the radar in this race, thus far. That can change. I’m not selling all yet, because I know that we are still a full three months away from casting any vote. For now, however, I’m selling off Michelle Bachmann stock.

Congresswoman Bachmann came out swinging last night. She really had some great moments. I honestly do not know if this response will build any support for her. She had some great moments. My favorite was when she brought up that Barrack Obama’s relatives are still in this country illegally. Honestly I don’t know if she’s going to pick up any support, but I thought her debate performance was solid.

Herman Cain – Buy (Buy):

Cain really knocked this debate out of the park. He explained and articulated his 9-9-9 Plan wonderfully. The explanation that the new sales tax is not just offset but actually overcome by the repeal of the Payroll Tax and the Federal Income tax and lead to a smaller tax burden. The other thing he explained well is that the 9-9-9 Plan is the only plan where EVERYONE is paying their real “fair share,” which means that EVERYONE is paying taxes, not just 52% of us paying 100% of the taxes while the 48% pay 0% of the tax burden and receive the majority of the tax benefits. He really nailed it.

He took it hard on the 9% sales tax in the debate from the other candidates. I think he did a good job of responding and explaining that the plan is replacing the current pipeline, not giving a new tax pipeline.

In the last month I’ve done a 180 on Herman Cain. He’s become a viable candidate and is the current contender to Mitt Romney at the top of the race. I thought he did a very good job of explaining his 9-9-9 Plan and continuing to invite people to go to his website and view the plan in full. He did a great job to explain that his plan is replacing significant taxes that go into the price of every product we buy. He’s going to have to do a lot of explaining to get that fact into people’s heads. Yes, there would need to be significant and potentially Constitutional safeguards for a plan like 9-9-9 to work. But he did a good job I think of shaking off the attacks and staying firm on his plan.

Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):

Newt really took it to the moderators. He’s the reason I didn’t hop in my car and drive to NH to smack Charlie Rose. (That and my desire to not spend money to drive to NH and smack someone and then go to jail for assault. That was in there too.) Newt has started to rise in the polls a bit. I’m holding on to Newt’s Stock because he’s just so good in these debates. He’d crush Obama in a debate. I’d love to see Newt as the Vice President, or for that matter as the White House Press Secretary if he’d take the job. Let’s see if he can get back into this thing…because he could really take it to Obama.

Newt joins Herman Cain in the category of making me look bad, and I’m glad of it. I really like Newt. If he can show himself to be a viable option and not a throw away vote in my state’s primary, I’d strongly consider voting for him. He’s got great ideas and he would absolutely cream Obama in a debate. He had great moments in the debate. I’d like to see Newt really take the next step. Let’s see what happens.

Jon Huntsman – Not In Attendance (Sold):

I think the kids in those Peter G. Peterson Foundation commercials explaining how economics work would make better candidates than Jon Huntsman. Also, who names their kid Peter Peterson? Moving on.

I’m glad Huntsman wasn’t here. I’ve run out of funny statements for him. I’ll work on it before the next debate. Any suggestions, send me a tweet @UpstateMetFan.

Gary Johnson – Not in Attendance (Sold):

Kermit stayed home this time. Miss Piggy wouldn’t let him come out and play I guess. Too bad. (Not really.)

See Jon Huntsman note.

Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):

No change in my opinion from Paul. Unlike the last two candidates listed, I respect Ron Paul. So I’ll just leave it at that.

Ron Paul forgot to sound crazy tonight for the majority of the debate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I agree with him on 85% of his policies. Unfortunately the other 15%, which only came up minimally last night, scare me about him, like his isolationist policies that do not make sense in our modern world. I stay where I’ve stood, he won’t be the President. But I’m glad he’s in my party. Also, I’d like to give kudos to Paul on one statement, “We have rights, and they come from God.”

Rick Perry – Buy (Hold):

Rick Perry is losing people fast. He needs to have specific plans. Right now it still feels like he’s obfuscating (that’s “being confusing without saying anything” for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL). He really has lost a lot of potential in my mind. When a Republican can’t respond effectively to a Ronald Reagan question, there’s a problem.

I felt Perry rebounded pretty well. His plans to use the energy resources we have to power this country makes far too much sense to ignore. I can’t tell you what a boon to my budget it would be to see my energy costs go down. I’m fortunate enough to live in a town with local, municipal electricity, but even so, if gas prices were cut in half and energy prices were cut in half due to increased supply, that’d be a 10% increase in my monthly available budget, and that would be absolutely huge to me. For the rest of American that would be so as well. I felt he did a decent job on immigration as well.

Most importantly, I felt Perry did a good job of taking it to Mitt Romney. In fairness, Perry really should have let Mitt finish his sentences, but the reality of the situation was that I think Mitt sounded like a he was whining while Perry seemed like an attack dog. While Perry’s statement about Romney hiring illegal immigrants may not have only been true in name only (and I’ll look for a fact check on that), if Romney’s response was indeed true, it still did bloody Romney a bit. Perry may have started to rebound last night.

Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):

Another great debate performance from Mitt Romney. His tough stance on China was impressive, if he lives it out, and I felt he did a good job showing that he is a good candidate on the economy. Now Mitt is not my first choice, and pretty much the only way he’ll get my vote in the primary is if Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum are out of the race (in that order). That said, he’s doing a good job of convincing me that, if Mitt becomes our nominee, it wouldn’t remind me of holding my nose in 2008 and voting for John McCain. (Actually, in 2008, I voted for Sarah Palin and her boss.)

In short, Mitt to me is like a vanilla ice cream cone. By comparison, my current favorite, Herman Cain, would be like eating a big delicious ice cream sundae with all the fixings*. I’d be happy to eat a vanilla ice cream cone. I’d enjoy it. I’d rather eat a sundae with all the fixings. That’s the line with Mitt…we can do better as conservatives. We also can do a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, Romneycare could be a big problem for Mitt.

Mitt stood his ground last night and did as well as he’s continued to do. I want to see a fact check on his claim that his “illegal immigrant hiring” was actually him contracting for landscaping with a company who hired illegals, which is, in fairness, not something I can legitimately blame Mitt for. However, where I think he looked bad was when he was defending himself against the interruptions by Perry. I know, it doesn’t sound right, and in most cases I would think that Perry sounded like a jerk and Mitt like a victim. Yet, in that particular instance, Mitt came off to me as condescending and Perry as someone who was legitimately looking for answers.

That exchange (and the subsequent Twitter reactions during said exchange) showed Mitt’s biggest problem. The conservative Republican base really doesn’t want him. That’s why there’s been a perpetual battle of Mitt vs. Not Mitt. (The role of Not Mitt has been played recently by Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain.) Republicans are desperately seeking somebody else, and that will hurt Mitt.

Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):

Santorum spent a lot of time trying to get back into the spotlight. It didn’t work. Considering he’s from Pennsylvania, he’s got a shot at being the Vice Presidential nominee in an effort to turn that 2008 blue state into a red state in 2012. But he’s not going to be the President, at least not without serving first as Vice President, and not in 2012.

Santorum was swinging away again tonight, and I still don’t think he gained any traction. I like him, but his highest possible realistic goal is Vice President.

Another debate in the books and my decision has gotten muddy again. My current options are, in alphabetical order, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry. I really don’t know where to go, but I’m glad I have so many choices that I would consider good, and even more that I consider acceptable. Thank