The debate at Dartmouth University last night focused on the economy, presenting to America eight candidates to pick apart and analyze. The roundtable forum, complete with cozy coffee mugs and continuously bubbling laughter from Michele Bachmann, was yet another successful step toward narrowing the field to a single Republican presidential ticket in November 2012.
That ticket will be Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate with Herman Cain as his stalwart veep, a match made in heaven. You have the moderate conservative from Massachusetts and the Tea Party hero from Georgia. The Mormon and the protestant. The political prestige and the business brains. Romney is dry. Cain is hilarious. I don’t know why I didn’t think of the pair before. Oh wait – I was counting on the Texan.
No, not Ron Paul. He’s all but completely out of the running. I’m talking about Rick Perry, the guns n’ smoke, rip-roarin’ poll phenom that had the whole country topsy turvy long before August’s Iowa State Fair. Where is he now?
Gov. perry is trailing Romney and Cain in the polls, and last night, he may have even dropped to fourth place.
The immigration issue discussed in last month’s debates, as predicted, severely injured Perry. What hurt him in the first primary state was his actual performance. He appeared groggy, even slow. The RNC may fear giving constituents a candidate reminiscent of President George. W. Bush, but at least Bush provided a steady flow of usable sound bites. Gov. Perry is more conservative than Romney, but his chances to prove that to America are thinning.
The spotlight beamed on the Godfathers Pizza CEO and the governor from Massachusetts. The topic of religion may harm Romney in the Republican primaries, but it won’t make a difference if voters remember who they’re voting against in the general election.
Over all, Romney won the debate. He cleared up the hot topic issue of institution bailouts by differentiating between bailouts and preserving the national currency and the US financial system. The issue was instigated when moderators recited a previous quote from Romney saying the bank bailouts saved the country. In an atmosphere breeding the likes of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, that quote – and the issue behind it – could kill him with the youth vote. But, if that demographic listens closely and applies reason (I won’t hold my breath), they may understand the important distinction Romney was making.
“I’m not interested in bailing out failing institutions … Bailing people out is a terrible idea,” Romney said.
Not surprisingly, Cain agreed. Both seemed to purport a care for the American people over the interests of giant institutions. Romney’s simple solution of the night was to protect American jobs, just say no to bailouts and fight China with everything we’ve got.
“If you’re not willing to stand up to China, you risk getting run over by China, and that’s what’s happening,” Romney said, and later reiterated. “We’ve been played like a fiddle by the Chinese.”
If Obama was Bachmann’s main target, China was Romney’s. And according to political analyst Dick Morris, it was an affective strategy. We should expect an upsurge in the polls on behalf of the Romney campaign if this topic is capitalized in the media over the next few weeks.
On the other hand, Cain’s suggestion to fix the economy revolved around his silver bullet point encircling the 999 Plan, succinctly outlined thusly:
- Business Flat Tax – 9%
- Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses and all dividends paid to shareholders.
- Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for payroll employed in the zone.
- Individual Flat Tax – 9%.
- Gross income less charitable deductions.
- Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for those living and/or working in the zone.
- National Sales Tax – 9%.
- This gets the Fair Tax off the sidelines and into the game.
In fact, the first hour of the debate felt like a 999 Plan commercial. Utah Gov. Jonathan Huntsman jokingly said of it, “It’s a catchy phrase. I actually thought it was the price of a pizza.”
Bachmann jumped on the band-wagon with her own, more devious, attack on what’s become as popular as coffee in conservative homes across the country. She told us to flip the 999 Plan around and take a second look.
“The devil’s in the details. … The 999 Plan isn’t a jobs plan, it’s a tax plan.”
As a tax attorney, she would know.
The New Hampshire debate was a necessary grappling point for Bachmann in the final countdown toward the primaries next year. Though I love her to pieces, it’s only a matter of time till she drops out of the race. And when she does, her ideas will only enrich another candidate. She’s not ready for this election, but she may very well be in 2020.
Newt Gingrich was strong, but for some reason wasn’t given enough air time. That was disappointing. However, he made a good show in blasting Ben Bernanke and the Dodd-Frank law, the economic version of Obamacare. He was joined in his volley of disapproval by Bachmann and Cain. Gingrich even said the Dodd-Frank bill is the real culprit for the downfall of Wall Street.
Though I prefer Cain’s unwavering conservatism, the debate’s crown and scepter go to Romney. He is consistent and strong with clear cut answers. Cut federal spending. Introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment. Repatriate our dollars from overseas. Throw away Obama’s jobs bills – according to Newt, they’re “stupid”. Cut back on scale of government. No new taxes. Create jobs.
Romneycare worries me, but not as much as the whole of our current president. We have to focus on who can actually beat him, and a Romney-Cain ticket might just do it.