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Rick Perry wins Iowa Republican presidential debate

If you skipped the Republican presidential debate last night, you missed a lot. Tim Pawlenty offered to mow Romney’s lawn, Romney said he won’t eat Obama’s dog food, Rick Santorum positioned himself as the Eeyore Candidate, and Newt Gingrich made it be known that he doesn’t like answering questions, which is awkward for a debate.

Gingrich spent more time sparring with the moderators than answering questions or addressing his differences from the other candidates. Newt didn’t like the “gotcha questions,” which is what he calls any questions that make him look bad, which is to say all of them. Still, Newt did surprisingly well in the debate in the rare times that he did answer questions, by bringing up his accomplishments as Speaker of the House, including pushing through tax cuts and reforms during the Clinton administration.

Tim Pawlenty has been dogged by a “boring” label, seen as too nice and milquetoast of a candidate to get anyone excited. He combated that in the debate by acting like a douche. His campaign is now effectively over. While attempting to destroy fellow Minnesotan Michelle Bachmann, he blew himself up in the process. His constant bickering with Bachmann made him seem less like a president and more like a know-it-all older brother who is jealous of his sibling’s popularity. The dust-up with Bachmann lost T-Paw more conservative support and I’m not sure misquoting Spider-Man in his closing statement helped.

Still, Pawlenty did have the best line of the night. Saying that Obama has no plan for reform of social security, Medicare or Medicade, he offered a prize to all Americans. “If you can find Barack Obama’s specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook your dinner. Or if you prefer, I’ll come to your house and mow your lawn.” He then took a shot at the wealthy Romney, saying “but in case Mitt wins, I’m limiting it to one acre.”

As for Bachmann, she seems content to run as the anti-Obama candidate. She has the right ideas, but all of her responses were vague. She said she would reduce spending, cut taxes and shrink the government, but was short on specifics. The gist of her performance was “imagine what Obama would do in a situation; I would do the opposite.”

We still don’t know why Jon Huntsman is running or why he’s running as a Republican. We know that he’s proud of his record, because saying “I’m proud of my record” was his response to every question. He admitted that even though he’s running for president, he doesn’t yet have an economic strategy. He promised to have one soon, though. Hey Jon, we already have a president without an economic plan. We don’t need another one. Huntsman further angered conservatives by mocking Rick Perry for praying. If Perry were at the debate, he probably could have told Jon that pride is a sin.

Herman Cain is the kind of guy you root for and he seems like the man to turn the economy around, but he didn’t reassure anyone who was worried about his knowledge on foreign policy. When asked about topics he flubbed in the past, he said that “I know more about that now than I did then.” Great, so keep studying and then run again in 2016. Cain was also hurt by the fact that most of his questions were about his controversial quotes, to which he responded “America has got to learn how to take a joke.”

Rick Santorum spent most of his time on camera complaining about not getting enough time on camera. Though he may be after sympathy votes, constantly whining about not getting enough attention doesn’t make him seem presidential. He even once spoke when it wasn’t his turn simply because he was tired of not being called on (and because he needed to correct an insane Ron Paul statement). Santorum did have a great line when asked why he didn’t approve of any circumstances for abortion, though. He said that “the Supreme Court has ruled that a man who commits rape cannot be executed, but the child produced by the rape can. That child did nothing wrong.”

Despite the attempts of the media to paint Bachmann as the Crazy Candidate, Ron Paul made it clear that insane is his territory. He called for bringing our troops home from abroad so they can patrol our border instead, apparently because he hasn’t heard of Posse Comentadas. He also said he has no problem with Iran having nuclear weapons and that the country is only dangerous because “they have some militants there.” Well yeah, but it’s a lot of militants and they just so happen to be running the government. Paul went on to explain that every foreign policy problem is our fault and America needs to abandon all allies and become isolationist so no one will hate us anymore. I don’t know, I think even then they would hate Ron Paul.

Mitt Romney was the frontrunner going into the debate. Throughout, he was vintage Mitt, which is to say boring but polished and presidential. He didn’t wow the conservative audience, but he presented clear plans for America. Unlike Newt, when he was asked gotcha questions, he actually answered them and was able to look good doing so. Romney was the slick politician as always, which is why people think he has the best chance of beating Obama.

After all of the jabs, debating and Obama-bashing, there was one clear winner at the end of the debate: Texas Governor Rick Perry, who will announce his candidacy this weekend.

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