Scorecard: November 9, 2011 Republican Debate
Thanks to Rick Perry, no one will be talking about Herman Cain’s sexual harassment allegations tomorrow.
Gov. Perry’s humiliating, 45-second-long gaffe will surely be the main headline tomorrow (the video of his painful brain freeze appears below). But how did the other seven candidates do?
Here are tonight’s grades, in order of best to worst:
THE TOP TIER
HERMAN CAIN (1st Place, Grade: A-)
With another strong performance, Mr. Cain continues to show why he has soared to the top of the pack. When asked about allegations of sexual harassment, he delivered a short, media-friendly sound bite:
“The American people deserve better than someone being in tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations.”
Mr. Cain also demonstrated why he was an effective marketer, not only continuing to brand “9-9-9,” but seemingly inventing the phrase “sneak a-taxes” – which I suspect we’ll be hearing again.
His answer regarding Italy’s debt crisis exposed gaps in his knowledge, which could hurt him as he moves closer to the nation’s first votes being cast in January.
Plus, I question his decision to label Nancy Pelosi, “Princess Nancy” during this debate, as it’s probably not the right time to give critics any ammunition to label him a misogynist. Despite the downsides, it was an overall impressive performance.
MITT ROMNEY (2nd Place, Grade: B+)
Gov. Romney’s strategy seems to be to try to win the nomination by remaining steady while other candidates self-immolate, rather than to win by being loved by voters. That strategy may work for him.
Mr. Romney was steady again tonight, although he’s increasingly looking annoyed when answering questions. One humorous (if not telling) moment occurred when Mr. Romney tried to reverse his image as a flip-flopper:
“I think people understand that I’m a man of steadiness and constancy. I don’t think you’re going to find someone who has more of those attributes than I do. I’ve been married to the same woman for 25 – excuse me, I’ll get in trouble – for 42 years.”
As someone on my Twitter feed recently said, Mr. Romney has a glass jaw, but his opponents have yet to find a way to break it. That must say something about his debating skills.
NEWT GINGRICH (3rd Place, tie, Grade: B)
Speaker Gingrich showed his wit time and time again tonight, most notably when moderator John Harwood tried to get him with a “gotcha” question:
John Harwood: “Your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006. What did you do for that money?”
Newt Gingrich: “I offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do.”
Mr. Gingrich is moving up in the polls (perhaps because the other conservative choices – Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have flamed out, while Herman Cain is busy fighting tough allegations). It’s understandable why voters are attracted to him – he’s witty, knowledgeable, and tough.
But I continue to question his lack of optimism and his discipline. Why waste several seconds fighting the moderators that he only has 30 seconds to answer a question? He agreed to the rules prior to the debate, and his reaction to the rules being enforced was a waste of valuable airtime. It’s okay to attack the media, but he should pick his moments more carefully.
Little has changed. In August 2010, I wrote on this blog:
“If Mr. Gingrich can find a way to remain stubbornly on message (and can begin to exude some optimism), he can become a viable contender. But until he demonstrates he can do so, he is not likely to win a general election, even against an unpopular president.”
MICHELE BACHMANN (3rd Place, tie, Grade: B)
Ms. Bachmann had one of her strongest performances since her first debate tonight. She began by knocking a question about tax rates out of the park, and made a compelling case that every American should pay at least something in federal taxes, even if it’s just $10.
Ms. Bachmann’s solid performance tonight will likely not prop up her flagging campaign, but it might help keep her supporters from moving to a different candidate…for now.
TRAILING THE FIELD
RON PAUL (5th Place, tied, Grade: C)
We know something about the type of person the American people elect. Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, the more charismatic candidate has won every general election. Rep. Paul is not that candidate.
Many of this blog’s readers are fans of Dr. Paul, and my analysis is not a referendum on Dr. Paul’s ideas. But style points matter to the electorate, and Dr. Paul too often looks more like a scolding nag than a presidential figure. He’s consistent and steady, but isn’t breaking through to a large-enough base to earn the nomination.
RICK SANTORUM (5th Place, tied, Grade: C)
You know that old saw that voters tend to vote for the candidate they’d most like to drink a beer with? It’s hard to see many people choosing Sen. Santorum as their drinking buddy.
Mr. Santorum looks sour. He spends way too much time talking about his 1990s legislative record instead of focusing like a laser on what he would do if elected. Mr. Santorum has run a campaign without any embarrassing headlines – but unfortunately for him, also one without any headlines at all. He failed to distinguish himself any further tonight, and will almost certainly remain in the “also-ran” category.
Despite that, I’m still giving him a “C” because he’s passionate and clearly believes in his positions. He deserves some credit for that authenticity.
JON HUNTSMAN (7th Place, Grade: D+)
If you ask the average American to list the people running for President, I’m betting Gov. Huntsman shows up as little more than an asterisk on the list. Despite national exposure in half a dozen debates, he’s barely made a dent.
He’s trying to run as an intellectual (tonight, he used words and phrases including, “the metastasis effect,” “yield curve,” and “efficacious.” I’m all for big words, but just ask Al Gore and John Kerry how well their intellectualism worked for them.
I’m convinced that Mr. Huntsman is no longer running for President, but rather to
boost his chances of a high-profile job post-candidacy. He may be a smart and likeable fella, but it’s hard to see how he’s going to be the Republican nominee.
RICK PERRY (8th Place, Grade: F)
In politics, image is (almost) everything. When Gov. Perry said he wanted to eliminate three government agencies and tried to list them, he couldn’t come up with the third agency. Instead of gracefully moving on, he continued trying to think of the third agency – for almost 45 painful seconds.
With his bumbling answer, Mr. Perry reinforced the now almost irreversible perception that he is not ready for prime time. That indelible moment will linger, and will likely doom his campaign.
It’s too bad. Other than that answer, Mr. Perry finally got his tone right and was steadier in this debate than in any of the earlier ones. But it won’t matter. Here’s the moment everyone will be talking about tomorrow:
What should Mr. Perry have done? As any media trainer would tell you, he should have transitioned – or “bridged” – to safer ground. For example, he could have said,
“You know, I’m having a brain freeze on that third agency, but let me tell you why it’s so important that we make these types of cuts. We need to do that because…”
Instead, Mr. Perry chose to wallow in his mistake with a “deer in headlights” expression not seen in such a high-profile debate since Arizona Governor Jan Brewer committed a similar gaffe in her 2010 gubernatorial debate.
Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Please leave your opinion in the comment section below, but remember the blog’s comment policy – no ad hominem attacks or pejorative name-calling will be posted.
Related: October 18, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: October 11, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: September 22, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: September 12, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: September 7, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: August 11, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
Related: June 13, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard
[…] assessment on debate – Cain won!!! He isn't going away he is going up! Quote: Scorecard: November 9, 2011 Republican Debate | Who Won The Nov 9 Debate? | Mr. Media Training THE TOP TIER HERMAN CAIN (1st Place, Grade: A-) With another strong performance, Mr. Cain […]
Oh, ouch that was painful. Only Mrs. Perry has spent a more uncomfortable 45 seconds with Rick. Rick Perry is the Ashlee Simpson of the GOP – not ready for prime time. He’d have been better off breaking into a hoedown than that “armadillo in the headlights” moment.
Who are you kidding? I agree with most of the other commentators out there that Romney clearly won the debate. Come on now. Cain did Ok too but he’s a great sound-byte, short answer man. Longer answers will tilt heavily in Romney’s favor, especially on foreign policy issues. With Cain, 9-9-9 is the answer to everything. Romney makes it look easy so he get’s no respect but yet he keeps on winning time after time, simply because he is the best prepared.
[…] Brad Phillips: “With his bumbling answer, Mr. Perry reinforced the now almost irreversible perception that he is not ready for prime time. That indelible moment will linger, and will likely doom his campaign.” […]
How can you even consider voting for the other frauds, Ron Paul been right for so long and has never changed views you know who he is you just go back 20 years do the research he is the same now as then- governments to big. The other guys change there view to win votes only. Ron Paul- sticks with the constitution and the truth- plain honest facts. When he walks in the room he is the smartest man in the room. Not to make him the GOP would be suicidal he is the only one that can go toe to toe with Obama and come out the winner every time. He is the representation of a true conservative.
Oh my word you guys favoring goof balls like Romney and Cain LMAO!. Those guys are jokes groomed politician notice how Romney brushed off his flipping and flopping questions -(trained) during the debate and how Cain lied to the public and said he never did pay a employee off called a “settlement” then when media had the proof admitted he did settle a potential sex harassment case. Cain is proving his personality is not honest and truthful (It’s called a lair). Romney and Cain will say anything to get your vote even if they don’t believe it. Don’t fall for it!
Stick with a real person a real candidate that is consistent even if you disagree with him on some issues least you know who he is and he will do what he said he will do because he believes it to be right.
Its time for America to look for substance over style
Perhaps I have grown cynical but Dr Paul is the only one who I actually believe believes what he says and has put some serious thought into it. Voting records should stand for something when guaging a candidate’s character and leaning(and yes your right to be suspicious of a man who feels compelled to prove how great he is).
Hermain Cain!…come on, you can’t be serious
Classic line by Cain (I paraphrase) “for everyone who has an allegation against me there are thousands that think I am a lovely guy. What kinda logic is this!
Can you not see through him?
I am Irish and live in Ireland but the world has gotten so small that who becomes president of the united states has an effect on us all. Come on America.
The people of Europe signed away their freedom and voice a few years ago (Nice Treaty)but you in America still have a chance. Make the constitution work for you in this regard. Don’t be dazzled by the lights. do something different for a change.
The REAL candidate may not be the obvious one.
There is no GOP candidate who can hold a candle to Gingrich’s leadership ability, knowledge, experience, toughness or debating skills. He is in a class all by himself and yet he is virtually ignored in favor of Cain who is not prepared to lead the United States of America. How could Cain be said to have won the debate when he is woefully ignorant of the subject matter of the questions posed?
There is no way that Cain won the debate. He can’t even answer the questions correctly. I would say its a dead tie between Romney and Gingrich. Cain comes across as the student that is just starting college and has no idea what he is even talking about. Cain also has some real issues with the sex charges against him, now 5 women and I’m sure more to follow. If he wants a chance as the nominee he needs to come clean and put everything on the table.
Herman Cain’s answer to every single question was “9-9-9” The audience started laughing at him. No way he won that debate. Newt was just rude to everyone who asked him any type of question and looked like a snobby jerk. Ron Paul put the nail in Rick Perry’s coffin with the angencies he would cut. His statements about budget cuts got the most applause and clearly won him the debate.
Ron Paul was the only guy on stage that i could believe. He is honest, consistant and he has a plan. More and more people are catching on to his message, although you won’t hear the media report it. Ron Paul has my vote.
I have never been a big fan of Ron Paul. I used to think he was even laughable the last time around, but the more I listen to what he is saying the more I like him. Even though all of the major media try to completely ignore him he is still there raising just as much as “top tier candidates” etc. I listen to the rest of the candidates and to be honest it sounds like they just want business as usual propose a little tweak here a little tweak there and guess what nothing changes for the little guy. Ron Paul is proposing huge changes to get this country on track not to mention most of his funding is from real people not huge companies and lobbyists like everyone else. I think I have made up my mind who to vote for I’m tired of these fake promises we’ve all heard before. Not popular but I believe he can bring change that we need as a country.
Funny how all the media sites say this person or that person won the debate of course they will never say Ron Paul, but when you read what the comments are below the headlines most of the public (voters) are all talking about Paul, AMD the media still ignores him and criticizes him that he will never get the nomination. I think they are in for a surprise. I know I don’t trust anyone else on that stage.
There’s no question that Dr. Paul has deeper support from his fans than any other Republican candidate, as this comment section (and many others) prove. But there simply aren’t enough of them. Their support, while deep and sincere, likely won’t be enough to help Dr. Paul end up with his nomination. He had the same deep support in 2008, which resulted in a small blip on the electoral map in terms of winning actual delegates. I haven’t seen anything significantly different this time around that’s likely to change that dynamic.
I would have to disagree with this artical. I find Ron Paul is the best person to run our country because he does not care about the parties or what he looks like in the eyes of the media. He is all about doing what is right for the people and not the party. I say VOTE RON PAUL 2012!!!
Do the research folks…you know what to do…vote in Ron Paul in your state primary…that means find out WHEN and HOW to do that locally ….
A Lanslide is the only way cuz you know they will rig the election. The proofs in the way the ‘untouchable’ fourth estate is handling it all …Ron Paul 5th…what a joke
landslide for Ron Paul …time to make room for the honest guys and gals
Ron Paul destroys any of their arguments when it comes to economy. And this topic is not only the most important and has been for a long time, but it is the most important debate topic this election as well. Also our foreign policy could use a Pauling. I see the momentum gained since 08 and I think he has a good shot.