Republican Debate in Iowa: Daily Beast Contributors Respond

Eight Republican candidates attacked one another’s records ahead of the Iowa straw poll.

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Eight GOP candidates participated in a Republican debate in Iowa Thursday night ahead of the Ames straw poll to be held in the state on Saturday. The night was full of heated exchanges, most notably between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty over a vote to raise a tobacco fee in Minnesota. Pawlenty tried to go on the attack against Romney, which he failed to do in the last debate, while Newt Gingrich assailed the moderators’ questions, and Ron Paul yelled at the top of his lungs that the U.S. should withdraw from foreign conflicts.

And the Winner Is … Rick Perry by Michael Tomasky

The Texas governor wasn’t on hand for Thursday’s GOP debate. But the weak showing made it clear: the field is wide open. By Michael Tomasky

Hard to say that there was a winner at the GOP’s Iowa debate Thursday night. It was more like T-ball, where everybody gets a trophy, win or lose. First of all, the panel did ask genuine, and genuinely difficult, questions. Byron York of the Washington Examiner forced the night’s most telling moment, when all the candidates (or at least all those asked) said they wouldn’t back a cuts-to-revenue deal even at a 10–1 ratio. That’s all you need to know to understand that no matter what they say on other questions, they would all run governments that would rack up massive deficits and force massive expenditures onto old people, and in fact pretty much the rest of us, too.



Bachmann’s Roundhouse Rightby Howard Kurtz

She doubled down on her opposition to raising the debt ceiling, and failed to point to a real record. But Michele Bachmann cleaned up anyway. By Howard Kurtz

Mitt Romney did nothing to hurt himself. Jon Huntsman sounded sane and sensible.

But the candidate who stole the show at Thursday’s Iowa debate is the same one who won the last debate: Michele Bachmann. And she did it by slamming the man standing next to her, Tim Pawlenty.



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The GOP’s Demolition Derbyby Michael Medved

Bachmann bobbled, Pawlenty was pathetic—Michael Medved on why everyone at the Iowa debate was diminished.

The obvious winner of the Iowa GOP debate: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who gained significant ground on all his rivals because he displayed the good sense not to show up. He emerges from this dispiriting gathering with his stature undiminished, his cowboy boots unsoiled, and he looks even more formidable (by comparison) in preparation for the expected announcement of his candidacy in South Carolina this weekend.



Is Michele Bachmann Submissive?by Leslie Bennetts

The Tea Party Queen was asked whether she would defer to her husband as president. Leslie Bennetts says it’s an important question—one that the Republican candidate shouldn’t be allowed to deflect so easily.

Nice try, Michele, but no cigar. And so far, the same might be said for the national press. As the 2012 presidential campaign gets underway, it looks as if it’s going to be a long, hard slog.

When Republican presidential candidates faced off Thursday night in the Iowa debate that set the stage for Saturday’s straw poll, it was a conservative columnist who asked Rep. Michele Bachmann a crucial question: what did she mean by her vow to be submissive to her husband?


7 Best Moments from the GOP Debateby The Daily Beast Video

The conflict had been a quiet one till the opening minutes of this debate. Tim Pawlenty fired first at Michele Bachmann, saying, “Her record of accomplishment … is nonexistent.” Bachmann reminded Pawlenty that he’d once said that “the era of small government is over” and “that sounds a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.”

Bachmann and Pawlenty drop the gloves, Herman Cain talks religion, and Rick Santorum decries the oppression of gays—in Iran. Watch the best moments from the GOP debate.



Pawlenty, Huntsman Come Up Shortby Mark McKinnon

Gingrich was in command. Romney escaped harm. And Bachmann stuck to her guns. Mark McKinnon on the good, the bad, and the sweaty.

Three winners at Thursday night’s GOP debate in Ames, Iowa: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann.

Gingrich looked in total command. He was authoritative and forceful, and he took on the media and President Obama. He appeared to be the real adult on the stage, the father figure or wise uncle.



Rick Perry’s Bachmann Gift by Kirsten Powers

The Texas governor was not on the stage, but benefited from the pile-on of Michele Bachmann, which diminished Tim Pawlenty and others, says Kirsten Powers.

Who won the second GOP debate in Iowa on Thursday night? Rick Perry by a landslide.

While the Texas governor was not on the stage, he stands to gain the most from avoiding a contentious and difficult debate where the questioners pulled no punches.MORE>>


Live-Blogging the Second GOP Debate by Andrew Sullivan

The winners tonight were the Fox interviewers, Baier and Wallace, who pulled no punches in this battle and asked some very tart and tough questions of the various candidates.

10 p.m. The winners tonight were the Fox interviewers, Baier and Wallace, who pulled no punches in this battle and asked some very tart and tough questions of the various candidates.

I think Bachmann is the current frontrunner in Iowa, and the debate tonight will cement her status. T-Paw was better; Romney came across as even shiftier than usual; Huntsman let his nerves get the better of him; Ron Paul's freshness has waned; Herman Cain was hopeless; Gingrich was very, very angry; and Santorum is so exercised about Iran he even wandered into a defense of gays! Awesome.



Perry’s Entitlement Problem by Andrew Romano

Rick Perry kicks off his campaign tomorrow, but is he electable? In an interview last fall, the Texas governor advocated dismantling Medicare and Social Security.

For months, Republicans have complained about their choices in the 2012 presidential race. Mitt Romney seems unprincipled, they’ve said. Michele Bachmann is too flimsy. Tim Pawlenty looks fine on paper, but in person, not so much. And Newt Gingrich is just plain erratic.



2012’s Invisible Candidate by Michelle Cottle

Thad McCotter is so obscure he couldn’t even land a spot in the Iowa debate. Michelle Cottle on the strangeness of the congressman’s lonely presidential campaign.

It is Thursday afternoon, and Republican presidential candidate Thad McCotter is calling from somewhere on the Iowa freeway. The Michigan congressman has spent his morning trailing after the Values Bus Tour, a four-day, cross-state extravaganza sponsored by a trio of conservative groups and tied to this weekend’s straw poll. Now he’s headed back to the state fair in Des Moines, Iowa, where he will enjoy pork on a stick, chat with voters, maybe jam on his guitar (he’s a committed ax man), and wait for the evening’s big event: a presidential debate, sponsored by Fox News and the state party, to be held at Iowa State University, and featuring eight GOP contenders.



The Scene From the Spin Room by Jill Lawrence

What does Michele Bachmann’s pollster think of Thursday night’s GOP debate? Jill Lawrence reports on the reaction from Tim Pawlenty’s campaign manager and other candidates’ spin buddies.

AMES, Iowa—Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter wasn’t allowed into the Republican debate, but somehow he wrangled a media pass and showed up to give his take on the proceedings. How are you going to recover from not being in the debate? a Michigan reporter asked him. “The first question is, have they recovered from being in it?” McCotter replied.