Iowa Debate Reax: From The Right

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 12 2011 @ 9:57am

My live-blogging insta-reax here. J-Pod:

Charting [Bachmann’s] performance in the debate would be like charting the Dow over the last week. Volatile would be the word for it, and volatility is not what Republicans are looking for in a candidate. As for Pawlenty, rarely has a fluent and well-prepared candidate with a solid record of accomplishment and an ability to think and argue on his feet proved so . . . meh. His candidacy is a wet match, and last night probably marked its end…

Romney is a weak frontrunner for all kinds of reasons, but standing on a stage next to seven other people who have no chance of being president, he looks like a Colossus. So he won. Again. But his performance was sufficiently unmemorable that he is clearly vulnerable to a strong showing by the incoming Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Or just about anybody else serious who might want to get in.

Ed Morrissey:

Biggest winner tonight: Rick Perry.

Stanley Kurtz:

“Perry is the real winner,” is sure to be a line. Perry’s great, but he’ll be a winner only after he’s gone through the sort of grilling we saw tonight. Perry could solve a lot of problems for the GOP, and I hope he does. But his biggest weakness is that he’s never been tested in a national campaign. Let’s see if he’s still a winner after going through some debates like this.

Erick Erickson:

Last night in Iowa, the Republicans debated. It was like the Island of Misfit Toys. Mitt Romney won the debate if only because Ames is apparently not big enough for two Minnesotans. The barbs between Bachmann and Pawlenty did them no favors.

Jonathan S. Tobin:

The bottom line. Romney stays on top. Bachmann still in a strong position. Pawlenty looks to be finished.

Robert Stacy McCain:

Mitt looks really handsome, doesn’t he?

Stephen F. Hayes:

It’s one of the most predictable and tiresome of the many presidential debate clichés: The candidate who didn’t participate won because the others were so weak. And yet that was the case in the Republican presidential debate here Thursday night. A Republican presidential field often described as weak seemed to confirm that conventional wisdom in a debate that featured many tough questions and many more weak answers. Rick Perry, who will announce his bid for the presidency on Saturday, did well because he didn’t do poorly.

Jonah Goldberg:

Not only has Fox News — the supposed mouthpiece of the GOP — put on a far, far, far better debate than CNN did (or MSNBC could),  it has subjected the GOP contenders to tougher, rougher, questions than any debate I can remember. In fact, I don’t think Obama ever received this kind of grilling as a candidate or as president.


Guy Benson:

If political junkies were rooting for a fireworks display tonight, they certainly got one.  Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty attacked each other repeatedly and ferociously.  Newt Gingrich twice ripped into moderators for perceived “gotcha” questions.  Ron Paul was (inexplicably) given the opportunity to animatedly spar with his competitors on virtually every foreign policy question of the evening.  Voices were raised.  The audience groaned, booed, and cheered.  It was, by far, the scrappiest debate of the bunch.  But was it productive?  I’m not sure.

Kathryn Jean-Lopez:

Newt represents the tea-party best. Anti-media. Anti-patience. The new fierce urgency of now.

Tina Korbe:

The inter-candidate squabbling (so accurately predicted by Ed), the candidate-moderator bickering, the Ron-Paul-centric foreign policy segment and the absence of any meaningful discussion of entitlement reform all combined, unfortunately, to reinforce the idea that Republicans haven’t yet found their candidate.

Ira Stoll:

Republican voters are going to have to decide whether they want someone as unwilling to compromise as Ms. Bachmann portrays herself, or if they’d rather have a compromiser who might be able to work more effectively with Democrats and independents, or at least win their votes. Ms. Bachmann began by saying she would appeal to independents, disaffected Democrats, and libertarians, and maybe she will, but that seemed design as a preemptive shield against the attacks that came on those lines from the other candidates.

Tony Katz:

It’s a very interesting back and forth between them.  I haven’t said much about Gov. Romney…and I don’t think that is going to change.  He started off with good fire, but now he is settling in to simple answers and getting done with this debate and away from the Straw Poll (which he is not participating in.)  And is Ambassador Huntsman still on the stage?

Rich Lowry:

Huntsman: His voice was shaky. Had even less gravity than Pawlenty. This was the candidate the mainstream press told us would be so formidable?

Bill Kristol posts a reader’s song:

No golden rings,
No soaring birds,
No fresh lens,
No rising above,
And no candidate who inspired me.

Conor Friedersdorf:

The most noteworthy and damning moment of the GOP debate in Iowa Thursday was when the moderators asked the candidates to raise their hands if they would walk away from a deal that cut ten dollars from the deficit for every one dollar in tax increases. Every last person on stage said they’d reject that deal.