Republican GOP Debate: Winners and Losers

By Parker Happ

Tuesday, The Washington Post and Bloomberg sponsored the third Republican Presidential Debate at Dartmouth College. Columnist Parker Happ weighs in on the winners, losers, and surprise finisher at the debate.


Rick Perry

Perry was not the cool, composed Texan as seen in previous debates. He offered no new information to voters on economics other than a plan that he would outline in the next three days and offered an energy policy reminiscent of 2008’s “Drill Baby Drill.” The Texan governor argued against the president’s failed policies of intimidating and overregulation in the energy sector. Instead he proposed to open the “treasure trove” of resources America is sitting on “for a declaration of energy independence.” However, some Americans still remember what BP did in the gulf, Gov. Perry.

Ron Paul

The outspoken Texan is famous for his consistent record of criticizing the role of government in economics. Yet, most of his talking points at the debate came across as disjointed.

Blaming Keynesian Economics’ role in causing America’s economic shortfalls, Paul highlighted Austrian Economics, a field few voters know about and Paul failed to explain on the big stage. CNN also attributed the Paul’s disconnect to the new debate format that allowed discussion and conversation among candidates. Of course Ron Paul is not going anywhere as he has consistently polled between 5 to 10 percent among libertarian voters.

Surprise Finisher

Herman Cain

He calls it the 9-9-9 Plan and its simplicity, paired with an unparalleled enthusiasm of Herman Cain, has jetted the lone African American GOP candidate to a new high in popularity among pollers. If president, Cain would propose a 9 percent corporate income tax, 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9 percent federal sales tax in a straightforward plan. “Can you name all 59 points in your 160-page plan?” asked Cain of Governor Romney.

Responding to Cain’s proposal, candidates quickly dismissed the 9-9-9 Plan as sounding like “the price of a pizza” and “inadequate” or “a pipeline.” Using prudent economic theory, Michele Bachmann pointed out that if you turn “9-9-9” upside down, the “devil’s in the details,” which sparked a cheeky grin from the Congresswoman reminiscent of her Newsweek cover shot.

Despite criticisms, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO argued America needs a plan that does not use the current tax code rather one that throws the current tax code altogether.

That said, trouble could be brewing on the horizon for a candidate that was referred to weeks ago as “the pizza guy.” So far, Americans have seen the quick rise and fall in popularity of Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and now Rick Perry. Cain could experience a quick fall as has been the trend this race, despite his surge. Meanwhile, Gov. Mitt Romney has polled consistently around 20 percent amongst conservative voters.


Mitt Romney

One thing is for certain: Romney is the Republican front-runner and is establishing his credibility by highlighting private sector experience, something separate from President Obama.

“I talk to Americans in the private sector for advice,” said Romney. “Right now, America is in a crisis.” Romney additionally argued that we need more than just a tax policy like 9-9-9 and he has the comprehensive plan.

Instead of bailouts proposed by Democrats, Romney pushed cutting federal spending, reform entitlements, and the creation of middle-class jobs in an effort to “take careful action to maintain the currency and financial system.”

“I’d be prepared to be a leader. You can’t get the country to go in the right direction and get Washington to work if you don’t have a president that’s a leader.”

Romney represents the moderate side of the Republican Party that is growing stronger while positioning the Massachusetts governor as a potential GOP nominee. Romney, pushing for a compromise concerning healthcare in Massachusetts, stands the only moderate and potentially electable candidate thus far in the race.