You’d think by now we would have a clear “top-tier” as the pundits refer to it as over in the US. Apparently not. Polls are consistently showing Romney is failing to capitalise upon his lead with his polling figures still stalled in the mid twenties. Romney supporters may take comfort from the fact that his support has yet to dip, even with a swarm of GOP contenders vying for popularity, yet for every candidate that rises and subsequently crashes, Romney is failing to take any of their support. We have seen this so far with Bachmann, Perry and now we are seeing the same with Cain. Now with the rise of Newt it suddenly feels different. The Speaker of the House is not so much a big gamble candidate that the aforementioned three certainly would be as Presidential candidates. He is very much Republican establishment, something sadly the GOP quite probably need when hoping to pose a serious threat to Obama in 2012. The charm of a Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann ticket maybe appealing to some anti-Obama Republicans, but the risk is simply too high if they want to make Obama, in Bachmann’s words, a “one term President”.
But what did tonights CNN debate on National Security reveal for us? Well very little. Perry and Romney are still intent on finishing off what is clearly a very personal battle whilst Ron Paul only reaffirmed what we have grown to know him to be, a bit of a rogue. But well meaning at least. This is how I’d rank the candidates after tonights debate:
Gingrich – 7/10 – His words on refusing to break up families on the discussion on illegal immigration felt very much human and would appeal to a lot of voters who are disgruntled with the idea of criminalising immigrants making an honest living in the US. What he said on the wider international issues may not have been particularly radical or unusual to hear from a GOP candidate but he often spoke in a forthright manner, something which followers are learning to respect from the Speaker.
Bachmann – 6/10 – Bachmann surprised me tonight. I very much wrote her off and although I do not think she stands a chance of winning the nomination she showed that on the big issues that face America she stands as almost, dare I say, the sensible voice from within the Tea Party. I predict she may be the VP choice for the winner of the candidacy looking to appeal to Tea Party voters.
Paul – 6/10 – With a huge campaign behind him from every day Republican voters and the rising “Blue Republicans” he will probably have not won any new fans tonight but did a good enough job of affirming Paul’s supporters love for him with his libertarian viewpoint taking centre stage to really set himself apart from others. Dismissing the benefits of foreign aid, oftenly naively, will appeal to Tea Party identifiers.
Huntsman – 6/10 – Republican’s generally see him as too associated with the Obama administration due to his role in Government, but tonight proved there may be more to Mr Huntsman than his fluency in the Chinese language. It just feels all too little too late for him to really pose a serious threat to the “top tier” candidates of the GOP field.
Romney – 5/10 – At times its felt, whenever he wasn’t bickering with Rick Perry, he was in fact arguing with himself. A poor performance from Mitt, but nothing that will seriously damage his chances. He is still safe, but for how long?
Cain – 4/10 – Made a lot of sense of cyber-security issues, but that was really it. Cain looked out of his depth and far too often we are seeing him showing a lack of immediacy and instinction. Can American’s really trust Cain to be the sort of President to make the sorts of decisions on National Security required of a President? Unless he has a well informed, strong team around him the answer is a definite no.
Perry – 3/10 – Perry, it seems, is oddly trying to follow in the footsteps of libertarian Texas congressman Ron Paul. Taking a hands-off approach to a lot of issues, but still seeming out of touch and reactionary with the real issues and problems. Perry is finished.
Santorum – 1/10 – Just get this man away from my computer screen. An absolute liability.
Tonight’s debate will probably not change much. There were no real standout moments and it does make you wonder what any of the GOP candidates actually offer to the US in any form of hope. Obama struck a nerve with voters in 2008 and even in times of unquestionable economic unrest he managed to present an opportunity of hope and change. The GOP field, with the exception to maybe Paul, offer nothing but the same old rubbish they were rejected for first time around. Blunt, but sadly true.