When I decided to review these debates, little did I know there would be so many – currently scheduled for 24. The schedule can be seen at 2011-12 Republican primary debate schedule. Videos of each of the first 10 are available there as well. The next one is set for November 19, and so far there are no announced plans to televise it, but the video will be streamed to a website available to everyone.
This debate was held by CBS in South Carolina. Moderators were Scott Pelley and Major Garrett (Major is his name, not a military rank.) All 8 candidates were present. The debate lasted an hour and a half, but the last half hour was only available at cbsnews.com. CBS didn’t consider it important enough to delay the next program on their regular schedule. The last half hour evidently drew so many viewers that it flooded the servers of the internet providers, so the first 15 minutes of it were unwatchable – the video cut in and out. As people gave up and logged off, it smoothed out so it was possible to watch the last 15 minutes.
Face time for the candidates was fairly well distributed, with Romney getting the most time, then Gingrich. There were a few attacks by one candidate on another, but most went without rebuttal.
The debate was centered around foreign affairs. Romney and Gingrich won, in my opinion. They were strong on retaining GITMO, the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorist prisoners, the advocacy of whatever it takes to deny nuclear weapon capability to Iran, the need to stay in Afghanistan, a firmer policy toward Pakistan and China, and the correctness of allowing the president to authorize a strike on any terrorist, even if he is an American citizen. Paul and Huntsman would pull out of Iran and Afghanistan immediately, and both opposed the use of waterboarding. Paul would not use force outside the U.S. The other candidates expressed opinions similar to Romney and Gingrich.
For once, Cain didn’t refer to his 9-9-9 plan, and I thank God for that. But he did revert to his overused formula for problem solving: gather experts, listen to them, and make his decision then. In other words, he has no opinion until he does that. It comes across, to me at least, as weak.
Perry had opportunities to laugh at himself over his memory gaffe, and did so in good humor. I think he helped himself in that respect.
Bachmann was her usual analytical self, made good points, but probably didn’t convince very many people to switch to her as favorite.
I like Santorum in that I know he is sincere, conservative, and smart, but I consider him immature, inexperienced, and irrelevant. I’ve almost stopped listening to him. His bragging and attacks on other candidates are less evident, but continue somewhat.
I cringe whenever a question is directed to either Paul or Huntsman. I don’t believe they live in the real world. In Huntsman’s case, I think all his time spent out of the country has resulted more in distorting his view rather than enhancing it.
Having watched all 10 debates to date, over a span of six and a half months, I believe I’ve learned a lot about the candidates. They’ve grown or shrunk in my estimation, and I believe there are now two standing: Romney and Gingrich. I retain a great deal of respect and admiration for Michelle Bachmann, but I don’t believe she will be a final contender. I believe Cain will rapidly fall out of the lead and will fade, because I don’t see sufficient substance in him. Perry still battles valiantly, but he tends to the emotional and lacks substance as well. I rate the rest of the candidates as irrelevant, and I wish they would drop out. Ron Paul always travels with a small but loud contingent of supporters, and will always get his 6 to 10 per cent, and his opinions may be right in many ways but they are highly impractical.