There was no clear winner in the debate.
Michele Bachmann held her own during the debate. She did well in her confrontations with Tim Pawlenty. However, she was not as endearing as she was in New Hampshire, but overall she represented herself and her positions passionately and clearly. Her stands on the key Conservative issues in the House of Representatives showed her willingness to tackle hard positions and stick to core principles. This demonstrates leadership.
Ron Paul remains a strong candidate and has influenced other candidates, who seem to be coming around to some of his long standing positions on foreign entanglements and also on his ideas regarding the economy.
Unfortunately Newt Gingrich is a terribly flawed as a candidate, because he is a phony conservative. He is the brightest and well-rounded intellectually, and even acted presidential. But, like Romney, you don’t get what you see.
Tim Pawlenty was present, but his desperate attack on Bachmann demeaned him. Michele Bachmann exposed his weaknesses during his service as governor.
Rick Santorum was the strongest on social issues of abortion and marriage, but the debate format frustrated him and it showed. A president has a lot of pressure on him, much greater than any debate.
Mitt Romney, another faux conservative, played it safe and let the other candidates fight it out among themselves. He talks leadership, but like Barack Obama shows none. He is the GOP establishment’s choice and will be hard to overcome, despite is obvious drawbacks.
Jon Huntsman should quit, or should run in the Democratic Primary against the President. He did a good job imitating Gov. Gary Johnson, who did poorly in the New Hampshire debate.
As others have said, the “winner” of the debate may have been Governor Rick Perry or maybe even Governor Sarah Palin. Really, with the exception of Newt Gingrich, who I think did the best in the debate per se, there was no outstanding winner present. The obvious loser was Jon Huntsman, whose views are out of the mainstream of even the current generally accepted Republican form of “conservatism.”
I predict that the top three finishers in today’s Iowa Straw Poll will be:
1 – Michele Bachmann
2 – Ron Paul
3 - Tim Pawlenty