Thoughts on the New Hampshire debates
The two New Hampshire debates are over and there were no groundbreaking moments, which of course helps Mitt Romney hold onto his huge lead in the Granite state because he was left virtually unscathed.
The candidates appeared to be resigned to the fact this is a race for second place and as such they spent more time bickering with each other and bashing Barack Obama than they did going after Mitt Romney, and I feel this was a mistake because if Mitt Romney can be brought down a few points in the polls and a closer than predicted second place finish is obtained it will help whoever that second place finisher is. It is possible the candidates realized this after the first debate because they seemed more willing to go after Mitt Romney in the second debate, but still didn’t really land a glove on him as far as I am concerned.
I did enjoy the fact the moderators allowed the candidates leeway in regards to the one minute rule, the candidates were often allowed to continue well passed the time limit and they did. I think you can learn so much more about a candidate when they are not relegated to giving stock one minute sound bite answers to questions–you learn more about their policies, why they believe in their policies, and also you learn more about their personalities.
I think that this benefitted all the candidates and all of them performed well in my opinion; it was good to hear more from Rick Santorum than we had in past debates, and I think that Rick Perry is getting stronger as the debates move on. If he had performed like this in the beginning he might be showing better in the polls. He had one of the funniest moments when he used the debate on Sunday to make fun of his “oops” moment, it made him seem more personable. If he does well in South Carolina perhaps we have written him off too soon.
But I feel as if the person who benefitted the most from the lax time limit rules was actually Ron Paul. With a strict time limit in place I feel Ron Paul gets flustered because he has so much he is trying to say in such a short time period, but with more time to speak Ron Paul appeared calm and on point and I think he fared well in the debates. In fact I think he may have shored up his second place finish–only time will tell.
Newt Gingrich performed well as usual and it will be interesting to see if he gets a bump in the polls because of it. Jon Huntsman also did well and some polls have him in third place right now. Gingrich, Santorum, and Huntsman may be battling it out for third place and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. Jon Huntsman used the same strategy in New Hampshire that Rick Santorum used in Iowa–he went all in–and to this point he hasn’t had the same success as did Santorum in Iowa and it is critical for him that he have a least a strong third place finish.
Tomorrow I will write a “What to watch for” post and will include my predictions, it should be fun.