Who Won the GOP Fox News Iowa Debate? The Final Grades Are In.

Let me preface by saying with only a few momentary exceptions, this was probably one of the best performances from each of the candidates. I felt that each candidate took seriously the need to bring their “A” game to this debate. Some performed better than others, but overall I think we got a pretty good look at our candidates. If you were tuning into these debates for the first time, I think you could walk away fairly confident that you understood the essence of the next President of the United States.

It is appropriate that this debate took place during finals week for so many college students, and in keeping with that spirit I have graded each candidate’s final performance as we head into the holiday break and the Iowa Caucus.

I will be the first to admit that these grades come with a bias, but I made a serious effort to be fair by weighing what question the moderator asked and how well the candidates answered those questions. I also considered how effectively a candidate set themselves apart from the others as well as how clearly they detailed those positions.

The Grades:

Mitt Romney—————- A
Michele Bachmann——— B
Ron Paul——————– B
Rick Perry—————— C
Newt Gingrich————- C
Rick Santorum————- C
Jon Huntsman————- D+

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Grading the Nevada GOP Debate – Who Passed the Test?

The following is a guest contribution by Adam Ebberts of Oklahoma:

It’s no secret that I am firmly in Romney’s camp. That being said, I am open to the strengths of other candidates as well as the weaknesses of Romney. A good idea is a good idea. That being said, I have attempted to be as impartial as I can be in grading the individual candidates’ performances last night.
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Mitt Romney

Grade: A
The Pros: Mitt appeared to have been anticipating an onslaught by the other fledgling campaigns. When you’ve been the obvious frontrunner for months you can expect everyone to try and tear you down as they clamor for some recognition.
The Cons: The reason I did not give Mitt an A+ was because he looked to Anderson Cooper to intervene when he was being interrupted. This is a CNN debate; they want to see the bickering and fighting among republicans. I would have liked to have seen a little more masterful command of the stage without having to appeal to the would-be moderator.
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Herman Cain

Grade: B-
The Pros: I gave Herman Cain a B- mostly for effort. He is not backing off his 9-9-9 plan and for the most part (at least the first two 9’s) it is resonating with voters. Even Newt gave Herman some props for opening people up to finally talking about substantive
The Cons: “Apples to Oranges” As Mitt attempted to point out; Herman’s 9-9-9 plan would impose an additional, federal sales tax on top of the sales taxes all ready leveled by the individual states. Herman tried to make the case that Mitt was comparing two different things and the two somewhere were not related. A more appropriate comparison would be, “do you prefer granny smith or red delicious?”
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Michelle Bachmann

Grade: B
The Pros: Michelle articulated very clearly her rational for calling Herman’s 9-9-9 plan a Value Added Tax. She sounded very competent on the issue and was able to effectively draw on her experience as a tax attorney.
The Cons: I felt the appeal to women voters towards the end of the debate was a bit odd and seemed like a new strategy for Bachmann. It sounded a little desperate to connect with a very specific demographic and felt a little more emotional then substantive.
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Newt Gingrich

Grade: B+
The Pros: Who doesn’t love Newt really? He is very articulate, very concise and works very hard at actually answering the questions posed to him. His analogy concerning the so-called “super-committee” was very relevant and made the issue easy to understand.
His praise for the other candidates when he feels they’re on to something, despite their other differences is commendable.
The Cons: Newt lost his cool a little bit when Romney fired back the challenge that Newt supported the individual mandate. To Newt’s credit he did not lie about where he stood on the issue, but he revealed a side of himself we don’t get to see very often.
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Rick Perry

Grade: D+
The Pros: Rick Perry made energy independence his primary selling point. He is right that America is an energy dependant nation and could do much better about taking care of ourselves in that regard.
The Cons: Perry’s distaste for Romney was loud and clear. His attacks seemed petty and half-cocked. After more than one failed assault on Romney, Perry began skirting the questions and going back to his poll-tested policy stance on energy independence. Perry did not help himself in this debate.
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Ron Paul

Grade: C
The Pros: Consistency. Ron Paul is nothing if not consistent. You can almost guess where he is going to fall on an issue.
The Cons: Consistency. Ron Paul has been saying the same thing for years. He has done little to sway public opinion towards libertarianism. This time around however he made some comments concerning Israel that wont sit well with many republican voters.
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Rick Santorum

Grade: C-
The Pros: True to form, Rick Santorum came out with both fists-a-swinging. Rick absolutely made the case that the family is the most fundamental and important unit of society, and is under attack. Santorum has been true to his faith and his family and that
shines through in battles he chooses.
The Cons: Not unlike Perry this time around, Santorum leveled a charge against Romney and then denied him the opportunity to respond. He seemed a little over the top given the issue of discussion (repealing Obamacare). We’ve seen Rick go after Perry and Paul, but this seemed even more personal than Guardisil.
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Jon Huntsman

Grade: W for withdrawal
The Pros: I’m sure his New Hampshire town hall event was spectacular.
The Cons: For a guy that has barely moved beyond the margin of error on national polls, missing a chance to share your vision in front of the entire nation could prove detrimental.
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Agree or disagree? Give us your grades in the comment section below.

Guest Post: Perry Comes Out Swinging, Knocks Himself Out

Many of you may know Mike Sage of America Needs Mitt. With his permission we are cross-posting his very apt view on last night’s GOP debates. Take it away Mike…


Rick Perry
Last night’s Fox News Google Debate started out as something of a snoozer, but it definitely got better as it progressed. It was clear from the beginning that Rick Perry was hoping to land some punches on Romney, but in the end, he only succeeded in hurting himself. Romney, on the other hand, did a masterful job of avoiding any major mistakes, connecting with the audience, staying focused on the issues voters want to hear about, and making Perry seem amateurish and ineffective in his attacks. Just an hour after the debate, Rick Perry’s “stock” at Intrade.com had dropped 12.5%, while Mitt Romney’s had risen by 9%. In the post-debate focus group conducted by Frank Luntz of Fox News, Romney emerged as the undisputed winner of the debate, and a significant number of the audience members stated that they were switching their allegiance from Perry to Romney.

How does a candidate like Rick Perry, who has had a week since last week’s debate to improve his game, manage to deliver a debate performance this time around that was even worse than his underwhelming offering last week? Let me count the ways…

First, he was tentative and uncertain about many of his answers. At times, it seemed he was stumbling around, just hoping to bump into a right answer by pure chance. A prime example was his muddled response to a question about what the U.S. should do in the event that Pakistan loses control over their nuclear weapons. His rambling and incoherent response involved tangents on our relations with India and China, and said nothing at all about nuclear weapons.

He trotted out the same answers that didn’t work last week, and seemed genuinely surprised that they didn’t work this week, either. When asked a question about how his HPV vaccine mandate smacked of corporate cronyism, he once again did his song-and-dance about how much he cares about cancer and how he will always (with much righteous indignation and emphasis on the word “always”) err on the side of life. That’s really great, and all, but the question was about corruption and cronyism, and he never even came close to responding to that.

He attempted to attack Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper on several occasions, but failed miserably each time. When he made a reference to Romney’s book, “No Apologies”, Romney shot back, “I stand by everything I wrote in my book. On the other hand, Governor, you’ve attempted to distance yourself from the things that you’ve written in your book, which was just published 9 months ago!” When Perry continued this particular line of attack, it fizzled badly when it became painfully obvious that it was a canned laundry-list of supposed flip-flops that Perry could barely remember and recite effectively, much less persuasively prosecute.

Transcript of Perry’s response:

I think Americans just don’t know sometimes which Mitt Romney they’re dealing with. Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of… against… the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment…was it was..before he was before these social programs, uh, from the standpoint he was standing, uh, for Roe vs. Wade before he was against Roe, uh, Roe vs. Wade… uh… he was… uh for Race To The Top… Uh…[pause]…he’s for Obamacare and now he’s against it…I mean, we’ll wait until tomorrow and, and, and wait to see which Mitt Romney we’re really talking to…

Here’s an idea. Let’s not wait until it’s time to debate President Obama to see if Rick Perry can string some words together into a coherent sentence.

At one point in the debate, Perry made such an inarticulate attack on Romney, that Romney (and much the audience, as well) wasn’t even really sure what the criticism was. At another point, Perry’s attack was swatted away with Romney simply laughing it off and saying, “Nice try, Governor.” The overall effect was devastating to Perry’s credibility, as it became more and more obvious that, as a debater, this candidate was out of his depth. He came across as some one going well out of his way to pick a fight with Mitt Romney, who infuriatingly, wasn’t taking the bait.

Most of the other candidates failed to distinguish themselves much in this debate. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain did very well, scoring some impressive and persuasive points in some of their responses. Unfortunately, Bachmann, Paul, and Johnson were practically invisible at last night’s debate, and Huntsman, as usual, came across like a snarky used car salesman who’s had one too many margaritas at lunch.

Bottom line, Mitt Romney walked away from this debate the clear and unequivocal winner. Some peoples’ eyes were opened, and a few minds were changed last… and that’s a good thing.

Romney Ready For CNN/Tea Party Presidential Debate in Florida

Here’s the low down on the show down in Tampa tonight…

The CNN/Tea Party GOP presidential debate begins tonight at 8:00 PM EST in Tampa, Florida. Wolf Blitzer (CNN) will moderate:

CNN and the Tea Party Express, along with more than 100 local tea party groups from every state across the country, will team up Monday, September 12 to present a first-of-its-kind debate from the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention: Tampa, Florida. Eight Republican presidential contenders will face questions from moderator and lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer during the two-hour event, which will air live on CNN from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. from the Florida State Fairgrounds. The debate will focus on a wide-range of topics, including the role, size and scope of government, with a specific emphasis on issue number one to tea party members and all Americans: the economy.

In addition to questions from Blitzer, audience members inside the debate hall, made up in part by members from tea party groups in 31 states and the District of Columbia, will be invited to ask questions directly to the candidates. Questions will also be taken live from tea party members at debate watch parties in Phoenix, Ariz.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Portsmouth, Virginia. Online, CNN will solicit questions via comments on CNNPolitics.com, the CNN Politics Facebook page, and by using the #CNNTeaParty hashtag on Twitter.

(emphasis added)

Debate preparation preview:

Tim Pawlenty, Romney’s new National Campaign Co-Chair will be a guest of The Gov’s at tonight’s debate.

CNN – 8 PM EST- 10PM
CNN replay- 11 PM EST – 1:00 AM

Here and here

The debate will be available via live stream in the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Expect a ROBUST exchange between Gov Romney and Rick Perry tonight. So, Mitt supporters, pop some corn, pop open your laptop, and pop in right here on MRC chat to join the fun when the debate begins!

Go get ’em, Mitt!

► Jayde Wyatt

Miss the Iowa GOP Debate? Watch Entire Debate Here

Thanks Ross for finding these. The entire debate is split into 8 parts, all embedded below.

PART 1 of 8

..more after the fold…
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Who Won the Fox News Ames, Iowa GOP Debate?

Fox News is already reporting that Romney may have increased his front-runner status after this debate. US News has proclaimed Mitt the winner and the sometimes hostile Hot Air is reporting that Mitt did the best as well.

The eight leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination met last night for a debate that largely produced two winners and reports usually list Mitt and a different candidate. I think Mitt’s impressive performance earlier in the day carried over into the debate a bit. No one wanted to go after Mitt too tough after seeing the way Mitt handled it earlier.

If this report wasn’t enough to show who Team Obama fears, just look at what David Axelrod was up to last night. Their attacks tell us all we need to know. Hey, it looks like we agree with Team Obama on something… Mitt won the debate ;)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

UPDATEMittRomney.com has some commentary on the debate.

Time Magazine grades the debate

Finally, make sure to check out some more reaction to the debate here and here.