Who won the latest 2012 Republican debate, televised on CBS last night? It certainly was not the Big-Eye network. CBS only broadcast the first hour of the 90-minute debate nationwide on television. Much of the Eastern United States had to watch the last half-hour on live streaming video, IF they could access it, which many could not. Both the CBS, and the National Journal websites were quickly overloaded, resulting in screen freezes and audio issues. Among the GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich once again proved himself to be the smartest person in the room. Rick Perry also did well, going the whole distance free of any gaffes and actually scoring points with the live audience in Spartanburg, South Carolina on several questions.
The debate also had its share of controversy, as a leaked email between CBS staff showed that they deliberately planned to keep Michele Bachmann′s time limited. Ron Paul fans also complained about the lack of face-time he got. Mitt Romney once again showed himself to be a clock-watcher, sparring with CBS moderator Scott Pelley about how much time he was allowed to answer a question. This whining by Romney is most unbecoming of a potential president. Romney also gave well-scripted answers as usual, designed to solicit favorable responses from the audience, however the crowd was too sophisticated to be taken in. A number of his answers on Iran, Afghanistan and China made little sense and were as bad as his foolish comments on Wednesday′s debate about the economy in Europe.
Foreign policy was the focus last night and Rick Perry drew the first big wave of applauds when he was the only candidate to suggest sanctioning Iran′s central bank, there by crippling it economically, to persuade the rouge nation from working on nuclear weapons. The crowd also liked his plan to tie all foreign aid to just how supportive and cooperative the receiving nations were with us. Later, Perry also reminded the audience, to their approval, that he is the only candidate who served in uniform with the military and has had more experience dealing with crises, such as natural disasters, and with military matters since Texas has one of the largest National Guard forces. He and most of the others blasted Barack Obama on every issue, including announcing an arbitrary time line for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Mitt Romney sided with the Obama policy, except he would extend our presence there an extra 90 days for some unknown reason.
Herman Cain handled himself well on international subjects. He, along with the rest except for Huntsman and Paul, were in favor of using enhanced interrogation when needed. Romney, for some unknown reason, was not questioned on his views about waterboarding. It probably would not matter anyway, as he would just flip-flop and be on both sides of the issue. Rick Santorum was also ignored for the most part by the moderators, yet still managed to go the whole debate without criticizing any of the other candidates. Here again, Newt Gingrich kept the focus on why all of the GOP contenders are better than Obama.
So the answer to who won the Republican presidential debate last night on CBS, we once again have to give the prize to Newt Gingrich, with Rick Perry a solid second-place finish. The biggest loser was clearly CBS, who felt airing a rerun of NCIS to much of the country was more important than carrying the entire 90-minutes of the debate. The 2012 GOP presidential candidates will debate again next Saturday, November 19, at 5pm EST. CSPAN will carry the debate live from Des Moines, Iowa.