The debate is being covered by a large number of bloggers, many of whom are far better at analyzing it than I am. So rather than making an attempt to do something of lesser quality than you'll find elsewhere, I will give my thoughts on it.
I like Michelle Bachman. I had not paid close attention to her as a candidate previously, as I didn't think it likely that she would run. To my knowledge, no one holding the elected office of Representative has ever won a general election. The higher house of Congress, yes, but not the lower. That said, she came out strong, didn't hesitate in her answers, spoke directly and succinctly, and didn't have an apologetic attitude about her stances. I think she handled herself better than the men on the platform last night.
I know many people are going to say Pawlenty not taking on Romney and his health care plan. That isn't my biggest letdown of the evening. I think Herman Cain was my biggest letdown. I had extremely high hopes for him based on what I understand of his politics. While I didn't see a weakness there, I did see a weakness in how he handles himself in public forums, and in this kind of pressure. While I personally don't mind someone who forgoes political correctness, and speaks his mind and heart freely, that rarely gets one very far in politics. I am certain that is one reason why I will not ever win an election at -any- level, should I ever decide to try.
I will say that I was not surprised in the least that Pawlenty did not go after Romney more aggressively. I say this because he is no true conservative. He sounded far more conservative last evening than I have heard him previously, and I believe that is because of the competition on the stage. Looking at the state of Minnesota, sure he's conservative - because compared to the rest of the state he is. He's not quite as liberal as Romney, but he is a progressive.
Romney surprised me with a couple of his answers. He did make one point that managed to get me to agree with him and disagree with him in the same thought process. That's a neat trick. When he was confronted on Romneycare in Mass, his response was that it is appropriate for the states to institute that sort of thing, but not the federal government. While I am a strong supporter of states' rights, the idea of forced medical care is still socialism verging on communism.
Ron Paul is still Ron Paul. He has some good things to say, sounds like a conservative, but it doesn't take long to realize that he doesn't hold the same values that most of us do. While there are areas where I consider myself a libertarian, he takes that concept in a direction that would not be healthy for this country.
Being from Pennsylvania, I was hoping for a stronger showing from Rick. He's a solid, upstanding man, and I have a lot of respect for him. I don't know that his place is in the White House though. I don't think he has the presence, or the executive style that it takes to lead from that seat. I don't think he's going to make it. I have mixed emotions about that, as it will be sad to see him lose, but I don't think he's the strongest candidate we have available.
Should I ever bother mentioning Newt? He's done nothing to impress me since he was Speaker many moons ago. There is too much of a cloud surrounding him today for him to be effective should he win the vote. Additionally, I doubt his true conservative motives, as he's been part of the establishment within the GOP for entirely too long. I think we'd be better off with him out of the race.
That about sums up my thoughts after last night's debate. Let me know what you all think.