10.11.11

Who Won the Debate?

The role of Mitt Romney's main foil switched to Herman Cain at last night's debate. Howard Kurtz, Mark McKinnon, and more Daily Beast contributors weigh in. Plus, highlights from the roundtable: the best jabs, biggest arguments, and more.

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A Knockout Win for Herman Cain
by Mark McKinnon

The candidate who’s having a surprising surge got all the attention at the GOP Bloomberg/Washington Post debate—and that’s why he won. Mark McKinnon on why we can expect more surprises from Cain.

When a debate spends about a third of the time debating your plan, you win.

Score this one a knockout for Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 plan. Yes, Mitt Romney had another solid performance. Michele Bachmann was focused and strong. Newt Gingrich came off as the smartest guy in the room as usual. Rick Santorum was solid. Jon Huntsman was improved. Rick Perry got stronger rather than weaker throughout the night, reversing his usual debate trend. And, Ron Paul was Ron Paul.

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Perry Gets No Traction
by Howard Kurtz

Romney was silky-smooth and Perry lackluster at the low-key Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP debate. Howard Kurtz on how Herman Cain emerged as the evening’s real star.

I feel safe in going out on a limb here: The Bloomberg-Washington Post debate barely moved the needle of the Republican presidential race.

Maybe it was the fact that the candidates were sitting around a table, which clearly lowered the decibel level. Maybe it was the string of open-ended questions from Charlie Rose. Maybe it was the fact that Rick Perry got all of two questions in the first 35 minutes. But what happened Tuesday night seemed more like a Dartmouth seminar than candidates in combat.

Mitt Romney, clearly in his comfort zone in a session limited to the economy—no Mormon questions, thank you very much—delivered a smooth and confident performance. He did nothing to dent his frontrunner status.

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The Race for the Worst
by Michael Tomasky

Romney was just un-bad enough to edge the competition, Cain merely sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and Perry choked once again, says Michael Tomasky.

This was supposed to be the first debate that (finally!) had real drama. Would Rick Perry talk smack? Would Herman Cain hold up? Would Mitt Romney slip into that comfortable shoe of front-runner-dom?

Well, they were all pretty terrible. But, it must be said, by degree. Romney was un-bad enough to stay ahead. Especially on the heels of his endorsement today from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Perry didn’t lay a glove on Romney during question period, and Romney proved reasonably deft at swatting away the “sell-out” problems, like the Massachusetts health-care plan. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bad enough to lose ground.

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Cain a Dud in Debate Performance
by Michelle Cottle

It was supposed to be Herman Cain’s night at the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate, but he spent most of the time barely trying to defend himself rather than advancing his positions, says Michelle Cottle.

As Republicans cast about for a savior, each of the early debates has focused on the performance of a particular candidate: How would Mitt Romney handle getting dogpiled? Could Michele Bachmann come across as non-flaky? Would Rootin’ Tootin’ Rick Perry shoot himself in the foot?

Tonight was Herman Cain’s night in the hot seat, as the dozen or so voters actually paying attention to the race at this point tuned in to see if the saucy pizza magnate would capitalize on his stunning poll surge.

One word: dud.

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GOP’s Irrational War on the Fed
by Zachary Karabell

Newt Gingrich’s attack on Ben Bernanke in Tuesday night’s debate illustrated the Republicans’ sustained assault on what they wrongly see as a corrupt and dangerous agency, says Zachary Karabell.

Early in last night’s Republican primary debate, the ever-provocative, always-entertaining and occasionally-astute Newt Gingrich launched a broadside against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke: “Bernanke has in secret spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing out another group. I don’t see anybody in the news media demanding the kind of transparency at the Fed that you would demand of every other aspect of the federal government. And I think it is corrupt and it is wrong for one man to have that kind of secret power.”

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