Who Won the GOP CBS National Journal Debate 11/12/11?

In what was a poorly produced debate last night, the GOP Presidential hopefuls were in South Carolina debating foreign policy. Dueling on television with a UFC prime time event and the Manny Pacquiao Pay Per View main event, there was conflict to entertain everyone last night. Let’s break it down.

This was a cake walk of a debate for the candidates. With only one subject to discuss, they could zero in on foreign policy and showcase their knowledge on affairs with China, Europe, and the Middle East. There was also no fighting among the candidates. The touchy subject matter lead to a strategy where they stuck with a simple debate plan and kept to themselves. It also helped that Scott Pelley moderated the debate with an iron fist. He held candidates down when limiting time for responses and wouldn’t let the crowd boo. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Scott Pelley is the “no fun moderator”

*This post only refers only to the televised portion. The stream on the CBS website was unwatchable.*

Who Won?:

Rick Perry: Well, his reputation is in shambles but the Texas Governor has tried to get back on the good side of the voters by having some fun with his debate meltdown from earlier this week. “You remembered that one?” Perry said to Scott Pelley, referring to one of the departments that he wanted dismantled but forgot at the CNBC debate. Pelley replied “I have had sometime to think about it” and Perry fired back “So have I”. That response got the biggest applause of the night. He goofed on providing foreign aid to Israel but, he’s walked that back since. The damage control he’s done after that fiasco on Thursday has been remarkable.

Jon Huntsman: Barring a miracle in New Hampshire, Huntsman is done. He does know foreign policy. During the little time he did have last night he flexed personal experience from his time as ambassador to China, and made a few good points.

Newt Gingrich:
Newt being Newt was once again, one of the brighter sides of the debates. He’ll keep climbing in the polls and will benefit if Romney or Cain falters.

Didn’t win or lose:

Herman Cain:
Cain is a self admitted, foreign policy “newbie”. He managed to side step the tough questions and not do any damage to his campaign. There is of course that other matter that needs to be attended to.

Mitt Romney: The reason he’s not a winner is because he didn’t get any opportunities to shine. He hung back during the entire debate. He’ll still be near or at the top of the polls and will be on cruise control until Iowa.

Ron Paul:
No mistakes, no points. Nothing lost, nothing gained. That’s Ron Paul.

Losers:

The Rest of the Field:
Bachmann didn’t gain any ground and isn’t trying anything new. Santorum makes points that appeal to some but, still can’t get any traction.

CBS: Wow, how bad was this broadcast? The set was ugly, the moderators grouchy and the crowd couldn’t express themselves. Then they invite all of the viewers to go online and watch the rest of it. The CBS website couldn’t handle the web traffic and voters are left out in the cold.

It’s one thing to have an awkward or disorganized moderator, it’s another thing to give the viewers at home a poor debate experience and that’s what happened last night.

Until next time…

The poor viewing experience subtracted from what could have been one of the better debates