Between the Debates - Checking in on the GOP Race

It's been a while since we've been able to assess where candidates (and their stock) are standing in the current race. The last debate was on October 18th, the next full debate is on November 9th.  It seems like it's a good time to check in and do a round of buy, hold, sell, sell all or sold to assess where the candidates stand in the race.  As always, we'll continue to put the previous debate's comments for each candidate in italics and their previous stock rating in parenthasis.

Michelle Bachmann – Sell (Hold):

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.

Congresswoman Bachmann hasn't really capitalized on the debate performance from October 18th.  She still sits at around 3% in the current polls.  It's going to take something huge for her to contend.  Keep an eye on her as a potential Vice Presidential candidate.  I also think if Speaker John Boehner loses a Tea Party primary challenge, I think you could see Bachmann as Speaker of the House.

Herman Cain – Buy (Buy):

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.

Cain has become the frontrunner in the race.  He's leading Mitt Romney in basically every national poll and is doing well in several key states, including leading Mitt by 7% in the most recent Quinnipiac Poll (1).  The left has tried to take him out by bringing out the old, tried and true sexual harrassment claims on Cain, and his support, along with his fundraising, went UP.  Liberals are absolutely dumbfounded now....they have no idea how to beat Cain. This could be very, very interesting.

Side note: I'm very interested to watch Cain and Newt Gingrich square off in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate on Saturday.  Should be fun to watch.

Newt Gingrich – Buy (Buy):

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.

Newt has pulled into 3rd place and is staying there.  If Cain falls off at some point, I'd expect Newt to be one of the contenders for the official "Not Mitt" spot in the race of Mitt vs. Not Mitt.  I'd love to get behind Newt...he's just got to prove to me that he can win.  He's a true dyed in the wool conservative, just what this country needs, and if the current liberal attack machine on Herman Cain ends up doing any damage, watch out for Newt to be the new "Not Mitt" option.

Jon Huntsman – Not In Attendance (Sold):

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.

I still need suggestions...tweet me!

Gary Johnson – Not in Attendance (Sold):

See Jon Huntsman note.

See John Huntsman note.

Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):

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.”

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ron Paul isn't going to be the GOP nominee.  Unlike the other people who have no chance, however, I respect Paul, so I won't go past that.

Rick Perry – Hold (Buy):

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.

I just don't know what to do with Perry.  On paper, his ideas are great...Flat Tax, Balanced Budget Amendment, Drill Baby Drill...and yet I'm not convinced he can effectively communicate those ideas.  There's an old adage in sales:  A good salesman could sell ice to an eskimo, but a bad salesman couldn't sell a man dying of thirst a glass of water. This is where I am with Perry...which salesman is he?  Conservatism is a good product, but if you're not a good salesman you can't even sell someone precisely what they need.  Perry's next debate performance will be key.  Has he taken time to practice and work on his message?  If so, he's got a shot at my vote and being the Republican nominee.  If not, he's done on both counts.

Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):

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.

Romney is what he is...a Rockefeller Republican who would be better than Obama, but we can still do better than Mitt. Conservatives don't want him...but the other Rockefeller Republicans do. I've talked to a few independents as well who like Romney, but I still think there's better choices out there, and with the Democrats seemingly intent on running Obama again, we have the opportunity to run a real conservative and give America a real choice.  However, I can live with Romney if I have to...I just hope I don't have to live with Romney.

Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):

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.

Santorum can't get traction, and if he hasn't gotten out of the basement yet, he's simply not going to now.  He might be Vice President, and that's an outside chance.

The next debate is five days away, and it's going to be interesting to see how this break between debates effects certain candidates.  Personally, I still haven't made up my mind.  Have you?  I'd love to hear from you if you have.  Email me at with your thoughts!


(1) American Voters Like Obama Better This Week, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Cain And Gingrich Up As Romney Stalls And Perry Fades