I think this debate marks the beginning of the end of the Herman Cain presidency. I didn't know, did others? that he was the head of the federal reserve in Kansas City in the 1990's. That came out in a rush tonight as he referenced that experience in his support of Allan Greenspan's actions while head of the Federal Reserve. Yes, that Allan Greenspan, widely blamed for helping the housing bubble along by keeping interest rates too low for too long. Even Greenspan has admitted mistakes were made. Can an ex-head of the federal reserve really transition to a tea party champion? Maybe, but he should take a hit based on this revelation.
Once he loses his grip on the Republican flavor of the month, we'll relegate the 9-9-9 plan to the back burner which received far too much discussion tonight. One quick thought, on his unnamed economic advisors who helped him come up with this plan, well, it was just strange that he named some unknown as his chief economic adviser, who turns out not to be an economist at all, and then sited a couple of other people who need to remain anonymous. This was just strange.
Rick Perry has completely flamed out. He wasn't awful in this debate, I guess, but he just kind of disappeared. Honestly, he didn't saying much worth remembering. The one concrete idea that he suggested was to open up the energy industry to drill, baby drill. Yes, this was his only idea on how to get the economy moving. Really? Everything else that came out of his mouth was meaningless platitudes. He's done.
The only serious candidate left (with apologies to Huntsman who has yet to break through) is Mitt Romney. He defended TARP, he rightly pointed the finger at China's currency policy, he pointed to education reform, and tax reform. He said some stuff I disagreed with, some really senseless stuff, but I have to believe that much of it has to do with his desire to win the nomination. He just sounded like he was in command, the smartest (by far) guy in the room, the only real presidential candidate left standing.
Granted, Bachmann, Santorum, and even Gingrich were engaging and smart, but they aren't breaking through. Gingrich has no chance. Bachmann was supposed to have been the tea party candidate but inexplicably flamed out. I'm still not sure why. She's a great debater. She's smart and articulate. She's crazy, but that should fit right in with what the tea party crowd is looking for. I'm wondering if someone can explain to me why she's slipped.
I'm also not sure why Santorum remains a third-tier candidate as well. He consistently says a bunch of tea party ideas. He is the most neo-con one of the group and that may hurt him. He doesn't have the organization or the name recognition. Maybe that will change.
A couple of notes about Romney. During the debate, he defended Romneycare by explaining his plan leaves the current system a lone and simply expands coverage, unlike Obamacare which was a revamp of the entire system. Ummm, that's just completely false. Obamacare was modeled almost exactly after Romney's plan and basically does the exact same thing - creating health care exchanges for those who don't currently have health insurance. Romney's strongest defense is that he plans on leaving health care reform up to the states and doesn't believe the federal government should get involved.
I'm anxiously awaiting an Obama/Romney showdown which seems the most likely scenario after this debate. We'll see.