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
issues.
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.