Memo to the GOP candidates who were not here at the debate in Greenville, S.C. tonight: Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum are ready for primetime. You better buckle up.
Both Pawlenty and Santorum came across as composed, self-assured, knowledgeable and strong. Add it all up and they ended up looking pretty presidential tonight.
Pawlenty looked strong from the start, as he never seemed to get rattled and was able to weave in the narrative of his life. That’s critical for a guy many Americans still don’t know.
When asked by a show of hands if the candidates would release the Osama Bin Laden photos, he was the first to raise his hand and he did so strongly like he was reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Pawlenty also was able to weave in his domestic fiscal credentials as governor and foreign policy credentials as well (multiple overseas trips).
In addition, he came across as a nice guy when complimenting Mike Huckabee when he could have taken a shot at him or Mitt Romney. He didn’t. he took the high road. Overall, Pawlenty couldn’t really ask for more.
As for Rick Santorum, he performed above expectations. He’s been categorized as an underdog and more of a lower tier candidate. But on the debate stage in Greenville, he sure didn’t look the part at all.
Instead, what we saw was Santorum’s ability to project his wisdom on a myriad of issues ranging from foreign policy to fiscal policy and social issues. He got a couple questions that were right in his wheelhouse (the truce on social issues and Muslim ideology) ,and as expected ,he hit them out of the park.
But it was Santorum’s stage presence and capacity to articulate a vision of a wonderful America (Declaration of Independence answer and others) that sent Santorum to another level tonight.
Watch for a bump in the polls. After this evening, Santorum should be seen as much more of a threat to the other candidates than previously thought.
Herman Cain came across as a serious thoughtful candidate tonight. For most Americans, this was probably the first time they’ve ever heard or seen him. He resonates big time within the Tea Party crowd.
Cain was able to explain his positions pretty well and the best thing that he did tonight is not become the guy with the funny line. Cain is a humorous, engaging man but his goal tonight was not to play the part of the funny, likable guy. That comes easy for him. Rather, his challenge was to proclaim to America that he’s a serious player and a deep thinker.
He made strides in those areas tonight. He has a long way to go but it can still be called a successful night for the “Hermanator.”
Ron Paul did what Ron Paul does. He has appeal but unfortunately for Ron Paul, it is limited. Fans of Ron Paul may not like that fact but it’s the truth.
The idea that he went on national TV tonight and said that if states want to legalize heroin he’d be okay with - that may please his base but it’s not going to win him the GOP nomination.
Ron Paul is the grandfather of the Tea Party movement but his son Rand Paul may be the one who marches the ball down the field even further.
As for Gary Johnson, he looked out of place and uncomfortably fidgety most of the night. Any guy who is pro-choice, in favor of legalizing marijuana, and against building the fence on the immigration issue might as well hang it up in the locker room before taking the field.
Unfortunately for Johnson, I see him becoming a future SNL skit.