Top Ten Takeways from CNBC’s Republican Debate

The CNBC debate on November 9, 2011 from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan (video) delivered the best performances from the GOP field thus far, with the notable exception of the imploding Rick Perry, whose campaign is going down in flames.

The questions centered on the nation’s struggling economy, aside from the Maria Bartiromo ambush of Cain on the increasingly spurious sexual harassment gossip, and elicited a number of brilliant answers on the matter Americans currently care about most.

For the sake of brevity and incisiveness, the take-aways from the debate are listed below:

  1. All of the GOP candidates looked much better than in previous debates, with the exception of the occasionally incomprehensible and increasingly unserious Rick Perry.
  2. Rick Perry made a huge gaffe, wasting nearly a minute as he struggled to recall the three cabinet departments he proposed to eliminate as president.  This memory lapse carried on despite having a life-line thrown his way – the “EPA” – but he still couldn’t recall that he had proposed to eliminate the Department of Energy. Perry has huge image problems, between his prior poor debate performances and with video circulating of his drunken speech.
  3. Newt Gingrich made another strong showing. His unflinching willingness to hit back hard against left-wing media fulfills a huge demand for the GOP base. Though he is a flawed candidate, he is starting to look much more appealing given the problems some of the other candidates have been having while on the campaign trail. The battle for the “not Romney” candidate continues, and Gingrich is now solidly in the mix with Cain for that slot.
  4. Herman Cain defended himself well against an ambush by CNBC hack Maria Bartiromo. When asked about the sexual harassment allegations dogging his campaign over the last week, he was visibly restrained rebuffing her insinuations. Overall, Cain gave great answers under circumstances. He was measured and sincere when he needed to be, and irked and angry when he needed to be, but never lost control. Should do much to ease the concerns of supporters and some skeptics.
  5. Michele Bachmann looked at times like she was angling for a VP choice, because she is restrained even though trailing by a wide margin. She turned down an opportunity to go after Romney, and was very restrained. She did not get strident or use the high pitched voice that may seem off-putting to some voters. Her approach was smart and restored some wavering confidence in her knowledge and competence.
  6. CNBC “moderator” Maria Bartiromo was adamant to solidify her left-wing activist street cred. She was noticeably disgusted for much of the debate, barely containing her disdain. She went so far as to very abruptly cut off Michele Bachmann during what was an erudite answer on tax policy, then she wagged her finger at Bachmann after she redirected to another candidate. Apparently, Bartiromo didn’t want anyone in the left-wing media to come away with the conclusion that former tax attorney Michele Bachmann actually knows what she is talking about on the subject.
  7. Mitt Romney was smooth and composed. One gets the sense that he appeals strongly to a section of the electorate that perceives any extreme action or rhetoric in a crisis to be threatening. The man appears presidential in appearance and tone, which helps him remain one of the leading candidates. His answers on economics varied from outstanding (on corporations) to undoubtedly status quo (retaining the progressive income tax, tax cuts for the middle class). Romney looked in disgust at Perry all night, and had to be laughing inside watching his potential rival self-destruct on air. Most of the GOP electorate is beyond the status quo attitude of the Republican Party, and this is limiting Romney’s candidacy.
  8. The candidates are generally standing up to crony capitalism, and even The Fed, in Newt Gingrich’s and Ron Paul’s case. The corporate media complex appears angry at the Republican candidates, except for Romney, and is generally going after them hard.  This shows that Republicans are perceived as a threat by some crony corporations that thrive on big government, which is a good sign of some of the candidates’ authenticity.
  9. The way the debates are set up, the GOP candidates tend to debate left-wing moderators instead of each other. At first, the decision to agree to left-moderated formats seemed unwise. Since everyone except for Perry seems to be handling the grilling better, however, it is turning out to be good exercise for the candidates to face off in hostile territory. The media will be gunning hard for anyone they perceive to be a threat to derail the government gravy train. The eventual GOP nominee has to be prepared for that, unless they are not actually a threat to crony capitalists, or their sugar daddy, Barack Obama.
  10. The candidates are witnessing a media firestorm over Herman Cain’s supposed sexual infractions and seem to have come to the conclusion that the best way to confront such ginned-up controversy is to go after the left-wing media. Newt Gingrich seems to understand this best. The GOP can no longer afford to treat so-called journalists as impartial relaters of the news, just trying to get the facts of the matter; but rather they should be attacked as hostile left-wing activists posing as professionals, and in some cases, arrogant hacks who need to be simultaneously scolded and educated.

As posted on Political Crush.