SC Debate Takeaway – We’ve Got our Work cut out for Us in 2012

I’ve watched each of the Republican primary debates, and last night’s debate on Fox was by far the best of the lot, for a number of reasons, the most important being the audience’s engagement.  Yet, despite the cheering, the booing, the standing ovation, I still have this knot in my stomach about the 2012 election.

Romney did not have a good debate last night.  He looked visibly nervous and rattled on occasion and began stammering, then finished a couple of answers with that robotic, plastic smile.  That kind of performance against Obama?  T O A S T.  He’s got to have a much better, simple explanation about his years at Bain Capital, or it may yet prove to be the bane of his election fortunes, especially with David Axelrod taking notes.

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich

And then there’s Newt.  I can’t help but like Newt, he is the smartest, most accomplished candidate up there.  He had one heck of a debate last night.  His one-liners — unequaled.  But is it too late?  He did not help himself last week with how he attacked Romney on Bain.  But more importantly, his straight-forward answers and his un-acceptance of status quo resonated with the crowd.  If he does this well on Thursday, he may score an upset and go into Florida stronger.

Rick Perry, also one of his better debates.  I was excited when Rick Perry entered the race, but after several of his debates (not counting the “oops”, it happens), I was left underwhelmed.  He can have one of the better gubernatorial records in the US, but unless he can articulate that record and string two sentences together, his Presidential aspirations will remain in Texas.  I can’t see him going on to Florida if he does not do at least double digits in SC.

Rick Santorum, sorry, I’m not impressed with him.  He may be beloved by certain evangelical groups, but I, personally, find his positions on certain issues too far right and out of the mainstream, to attract the independents and moderates who are needed to coalesce to defeat Obama.

Finally, Ron Paul.  Actually, I think he’s spot-on when it comes to his views on our individual liberties and freedoms being undermined by an increasingly invasive government.  He’s right about the need for a new monetary policy that responds to our current economic problems.  But, he’s hurt himself with other loony positions on 9/11, and isolationism best remains relegated to the ’30’s.

So will this primary battle and the nomination be sealed either by Saturday or possibly in Florida?  If Romney wins the nomination, prepare yourself for an unequaled class warfare battle.  If Gingrich pulls it out, it will be ethics charges, and his Jekyll-Hyde-like, good Newt/bad Newt to start.

I’ve often asked myself where is the Republican version of David Axelrod, because we’re going to need one.  I think we need to channel Lee Atwater.  ommmm

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