Friday, September 23, 2011

Post Debate Observations: Fox News/Google GOP Debate 22 September 2011

Post Debate Observations: Fox News/Google GOP Debate 22 September 2011 

by J C Anger

OK, since I watched the entire debate last night, I wanted to put my spin on what I saw.  So instead of just grading the candidates like I normally do, I went and printed off the transcript and graded each opportunity the candidates had and graded those.  I then took the average for each candidate to give them a grade point average for last night’s debate. 

See the Debate in it's entirety.

Let me get right to this and then sum it up in the end.   I’ll grade them by the order of introduction.  

Texas Governor Rick Perry:  
Grade opportunities – 16:  Highest grade B+:  Lowest grade F:  GPA – 1.56:  Gov Perry obviously was given the largest amount of face time and did the least with what he was given.  He should be embarrassed by his performance tonight.  His mid C performance was the lowest of any of the candidates tonight and he was the only candidate not to receive at least a B- grade.  He was the only candidate who received an F for his comment insulting Texas parents when he said, “I don’t know what part of opt-out parents don’t get.”  Who was he debating, the other candidates or the parents of Texas?  His highest grade of the night was his response about a potential running-mate when he said he wished he could split up Cain and Gingrich.  That just shows how weak of a performance this was.  He got 6 of 7 grades I gave out below a C-.  This was just a lousy performance by someone who is looking less Presidential by the day.  

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: 
Grade opportunities – 16: Highest grade A:  Lowest grade C-:  GPA – 2.56:  This was a fairly nice showing for Gov Romney.  It wasn’t his best showing but I believe it did place him near the middle of the pack.  This was a solid B performance for the Governor and shows why he is near the front in polls.  But one thing I did notice is, “it could have been better”.  Romney got into it with Gov Perry time and time again and he did look the better of the two.  In fact I believe Gov Romney’s high point occurred during one of these cross fires when he expounded on the expense of Gov Perry’s in-state illegal alien tuition program costing the Texas tax payers near $100,000 per illegal who graduate.  Though the actual number is $88,000, it still painted a great picture of how flawed Gov Perry’s program is whether Gov Perry wants to argue that it’s a “state issue” or not, I believe it’s a “tax” issue and a “breaking of the law” issue.  Where Romney fell the furthest was his answer, or lack of answer, on how he would turn this nation around.  Instead of answering the question, Romney gave a brief description of the current state of the economic situation for the American family and that America needs a leader they can believe in.  My question to this is, “where’s the answer in that?”  He failed to give an answer to that question and that has been a common fault for many career politicians who want to give us a story instead of a solution.  Governor Romney wants to paint himself a businessman, yet he cannot forget he has the title of Former Governor of Massachusetts, and that makes him a career politician.  

Congressman Ron Paul:  
Grade opportunities – 7: Highest grade A-:  Lowest grade C-:  GPA – 2.38:  Even though Paul stayed with his talking points, he seemed to lack the pop he usually has when he presents them.  To me he was in the lower part of the pack and it showed in him barely receiving a B grade.  His best comment of the night was the second part of his first response when he stated that the government was too big and DC is “run away”.  To me the rest of his time on stage was the same old Ron Paul over and over.  He seemed quite average.  His lowest point was on his final answer, when he refused to name a running mate until he gained into the top two in polling.  Guess we’ll never truly know who his running mate will be.  

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann: 
Grade opportunities – 8: Highest grade A-:  Lowest grade C-:  GPA – 2.58:  The first thing I want to mention is that the only reason she received eight opportunities is because she interjected herself into a spot where she had no right or reason to.  True I give her a top five performance, I just felt that was out of line and very tacky.  Her GPA would have been higher if not for that comment.  She did receive 3 ‘A-‘, which does say a lot about her overall performance.  She was strongest in border security, her understanding of separation of church and state (this would have gotten an ‘A’ or ‘A+’ had she explained it even better), and her explanation of Gov Perry’s extremely flawed forced vaccination policy.  She did her worse when she joined the no answer crowed on the last question.  In fact her final answer was so bad, she didn’t even seem to want to answer the question.  Even though this was a top five performance, I feel that the Congresswoman seems to be fading even more.  She seems frazzled at times and seems to be forcing pre-written answers that she thinks we want to hear as a nation.  It’s just not working any more.  

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich:  
Grade opportunities – 7:  Highest grade A-:  Lowest grade C:  GPA – 2.90:  I bet Professor Newt never expected to get a B+ for a grade and to be honest I was a bit surprised as well.  I felt that Speaker Gingrich was cruising along towards an A- when suddenly he got hit with that final question and scored his C.  He tried to sell it off with a bit of his sharp whit, but alas the Professor fell short and that brought his overall GPA down a bit and actually brought him out of the top two for the first time in the last three debates.  Newt did receive three ‘A-‘ just as Bachmann.  He was strong once again on immigration and shined when talking about cutting foreign aid to our enemies and also when mentioning that the direction of this nation will be changed once we have a new President of the United States of America.  Overall this was another good performance for the Speaker as he did get a ‘B+’.  The only thing I am surprised with was that he let the opportunity of having fun with the final question fall through his hands and fell a bit flat.  

Candidate Businessman Herman Cain:  
Grade opportunities – 7:  Highest grade A+:  Lowest grade B+:  GPA – 3.52:  The only thing anyone can ever say about hearing Herman Cain is “Wow!”  He truly has a grasp of an understanding of the problems this nation faces, and he’s the only candidate who speaks about solutions.  That’s the difference between Mr. Cain and the rest of the field and that’s what has made him the winner of the last 3 GOP debates.  Mr. Cain was the clear winner of tonight’s debate hand down.  His strong ‘A’ grade is a testimony of his unique qualities that he brings to this debate season and it is starting to resonate with the people.  By far Herman received the loudest and most consistent crowd reactions than any of the other candidates bar none.  He received the only ‘A+’ of the night when he explained the fact that he would be dead today if he were under Obamacare.  It was simply a heart felt, understandable answer that people could relate to.  For times he also received an ‘A’ for 9-9-9, eliminating the EPA combined with a Social Security solution, his stand with Israel, and how he’s going to turn this nation around.  Mr. Cain never really had a down moment.  In fact, Cain’s worse moment was better than Gov Perry’s best moment.  The two ‘B+’ he received were when he talked about education and the final answer about a running mate.  Even though these two answers were his lowest grade, they were still better than anything Gov Perry said during the debate and were actually very good answers.  This debate should give Mr. Cain a huge boost and based on his showing at the last three debates, one question arises, “How badly would Herman Cain make Obama look in a debate?”  

Senator Rick Santorum:  
Grade opportunities – 10:  Highest grade A:  Lowest grade C-:  GPA 3.10:  I first want to say congratulation on a great debate for Sen Santorum.  This may have been his best debate performance to date.  Because he has stirred up the pot of controversy, he was given a bit more time than he has at previous debates.  Just like Herman Cain, Sen Santorum received 4 A’s.  I am very impressed with his strong stance on immigration and national defense and that’s where he excelled.  His major downfall comes in his tendency to become confrontational.  When he becomes this he almost seems to be whining.  When you end a debate and the only bad thing someone can say about you is that you seem to whine too much is not a bad way to go.  Your ‘A-‘ performance is something you should be proud of.  

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman:  
Grade opportunities – 9:  Highest grade A-:  Lowest grade C:  GPA 2.63:  I’ll give this to Gov Huntsman, ‘he was very consistent during the debate’.  A top four performance is actually very good for him at this moment in time.  His best moments actually happened on the last two questions.  For both questions he received an ‘A-‘.  He was clear on his path to turn the economy around though I think it’s not enough and he chose and had good reasons for choosing Herman Cain as his hypothetical running mate.  His low point actually came on the education answer.  It was a very generic type of answer and I just wasn’t feeling it.  I will say overall this was not too bad of a debate for Gov Huntsman and his high ‘B’ grade may be his best showing yet.  


Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson:  
Grade opportunities – 5:  Highest grade A:  Lowest grade D+:  GPA 2.13:  The good news for Gov Johnson is that he made the debate.  The bad news for Gov Johnson is that he was shown on the debate.  I will give Gov Johnson two props for the debate performance.  First he scored higher than Gov Perry and got a ‘B-‘.  Second he had the line of the night that he stole from Rush, “My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”  Way to go on getting that line in the debate, but I think people saw you as very dull.   Gov Johnson’s low point was his inability to answer the question on commuter jets flying to Cuba.  Continued answers like this will keep him out of future debates and unless he polishes his skills up, that might not be a bad thing for this Presidential season.  

So let’s look at what this all means. 

The big winner was Herman Cain hands down.  This was a big momentum builder for Mr. Cain and I think we’re going to see much more from him in the near future and he could actually break into that top ties candidate placing very soon. 

Also winners were Santorum and Huntsman.  Both these two did better than they have in the past and it may help them a little, but I do not see either as making a huge move due to this debate.  Gingrich, Bachmann, and Paul should all stay put based on their performances.  Gingrich could have made another move if he didn’t fall flat on that last question.  I know I’m making a big deal of this one question, but you would expect a professor to be able to answer every question given in a flawless manner. 

I’ll group Romney with Johnson as both did nothing at all to help themselves.  Of course Romney will stick around, but it may be time for Johnson to take a second look. 

Lastly the biggest loser is Perry.  The more he debates, the worse he looks.  At this point in time there is nothing presidential about Gov Perry.  It’s hard to imagine that even a single parent in Texas would want any part of this man the way he demeaned them in front of the world.
 I hope if you haven’t seen it you would watch the replay.  Also if you did see it, take another look and see if you can find what I’m talking about.  

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