Reactions to the CNBC “Your Money, Your Vote” Debate

Last night, the Republican Presidential Candidates met for a debate in Rochester, MI. CNBC hosted the debate, and on many fronts I wanted to smack the moderators. It was pretty bad actually. I darn near threw my remote through the television when the moderators tried to play gotcha with Herman Cain. Then I remembered it’s not the TV’s fault. I continue to wonder why the heck we as Republicans keep putting ourselves through these debates? CNBC’s moderators kept trying to join into the debate and that is not what they are supposed to do. Too much gotcha was played. Jim Cramer reminded me a lot of Matt Foley the Motivational Speaker last night.

Aside from that, let’s play everybody’s favorite post debate game, buy, hold, sell, sell all or sold:

Michelle Bachmann – Hold (Sell):

Congresswoman Bachmann came out swinging tonight (look for that statement a lot tonight). 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.

Bachmann had good moments, but her place in the polls has tanked. I like what she said about everyone paying taxes, even if it’s $10 a year. I agree. When the Left talks about someone “not paying their fair share,” but they ignore that 47% of Americans pay zero taxes and then consumes more than half of the government welfare. So 47% of people pay no taxes and use all the tax money.

At one point Congresswoman Bachmann was my top choice. Right now I don’t feel she’s got a chance, and I’m not wasting my vote on idealism. Maybe she can be Vice President, but not President.

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 had a rough couple of weeks. Early on, the moderators tried to play gotcha with Cain. It didn’t work. He came off as genuine in his response. I will say this over and over, when Cain denies these charges, deep down in places I don’t talk about at parties, I believe him. Cain is an honest man. The best phrase to describe him is “what you see is what you get.” He really answered well.

Then he got back on message. He talked about 9-9-9. He talked about making taxes fairer and transparent. He really got back on topic today. I believe if Cain can stay on message he’ll get past this propped up, made up scandal and continue to succeed.

Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):

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.

In debates, Newt is the man. He tells it like it is and does it in a way that people can digest. I loved when he said that there were two points in our history of rapid economic growth, the Reagan Years and the Contract with America (bad news, Clinton fans, it wasn’t Clinton who caused the 90s Boom, it was the Contract with America). Both of those eras had one huge similarity: Lower taxes and let people keep their own money, because private citizens do better with their money than government ever can. Newt is on the rise, and I think he has a chance. I’m seriously considering voting for him now. He was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. I’m glad to see his rise.

Jon Huntsman – Sold (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’m kind of glad Huntsman is in these debates. It gives me a chance to use the bathroom or make a sandwich.

Gary Johnson – Not in Attendance (Sold):

See Jon Huntsman note.

Johnson showed up at what, one debate? Is he still running? Does anybody care?

Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):

Ron Paul forgot to sound crazy tonight. 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 didn’t come up tonight, scare me about him, like his isolationist policies that do not make sense in our modern world. I stay where I stay, 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 like some of Paul’s plans, namely cutting $1 Trillion from the budget in year one. Unfortunately there’s still that 15% where I can’t agree with him.

Rick Perry – Hold (Hold):

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.

Perry got better in this debate before he got worse. At first he was figuring out how to properly present conservatism. As I’ve said recently, I like his Flat Tax. I like his plan to remove all regulations added by the Obama administration based on one critera, “if it costs jobs, get rid of it.” My other favorite Perry statement tonight was “If you’re too big to fail, you’re too big.” And then the gaffes happened.

At one point I thought that Perry was back on the rise, and I was glad, because I think he’s one of the conservative powerhouses in this race and if he can prove he can win I’d love to back him. Then he couldn’t complete answering a question and looked like a bumbling fool. Once again I continue to stay that real conservatism wins every single time it’s effectively communicated. The problem is I still doubt if Perry can effectively communicate it.

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 it) 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.

Mitt had good moments and bad. One of his best moments was explaining the definition of profits. He got out of his robotic mode and got excited and showed emotion about capitalism. He had a rough moment early on when he was being questioned about his flip flops. What it really comes down to is that Romney would be okay, but we can do better. We’ve got, by my count, five dyed in the wool conservatives on that stage, and I want better than Mitt.

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 had a great debate. He really was on the ball. I just don’t see him getting revved up. Maybe I’m wrong. But for now, he’s getting 2-3% in polls. He’s got no chance.

My personal decision is getting closer…at least I’m down to three candidates I’m seriously considering: Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry. I’m sick of listening to Leftwing Moderators playing gotcha and knowing they will give softballs to Obama when the general election debates occur. Still, The field is winnowing in my mind. We’ll see how that continues. Next debate is Saturday night. We’ll see what happens!