Palmetto Scorecard
How the candidates did in the extended format.


Seth Leibsohn
CNN engaged in political and media malpractice by cutting to so many breaks and having John King speak over the candidates so often. The worst commercial break was in the midst of the Robby George–Mitt Romney exchange on abortion and the 14th Amendment: That was, perhaps, one of the most important questions people wanted to see Romney answer. That said, Mitt did himself immeasurable good by accepting this forum — he didn’t come off as flashy as the others, but commanding and substantive, and witty enough. “First of all, I’d have one.” Great line.

Seth Leibsohn is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and a principal with the consulting firm Leibsohn & Associates.


Kathryn Jean Lopez
The Labor Day Palmetto Freedom Forum, sponsored by the America’s Principles Project, was a breath of fresh air: Substantive questions, and an insistence that candidates show a real practical understanding of and competency on key principles. We should see more like them.

It, was, of course, a forum made for Newt Gingrich, and at times he seemed to be as comfortable as he might be back in front of a lecture hall at West Georgia College. For those skeptical about Mitt Romney, it was an opportunity for the former Massachusetts governor and businessman to show some command. And, yes, “look at all the data” was “such a Mitt answer.” It was a disappointment that Rick Perry wasn’t there. But we will see the Texas governor and the former Massachusetts governor square off, presumably, at the Reagan Library Wednesday night.

May there be fewer “American Idol or Dancing with the Stars?” questions, and more real conversations with candidates, such as this forum afforded.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.


Marvin Olasky
Questioner Robby George and historian Newt Gingrich won today’s debate.

Robby asked tough questions about religious freedom and none about pizza preferences. Referring to the Illinois madness, he asked whether the federal government should cut off funds to a state that discriminates against agencies that, on grounds of conscience, won’t place children with gay foster or adoptive couples. 

Robby also asked whether Congress should abide by Supreme Court decisions that violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection, since Section Five of that amendment authorizes Congress to enforce those guarantees. All of the candidates responded in pro-family ways, but the nuances were significant. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain agreed that the Supreme Court should be supreme among courts, but not among government branches. Ron Paul doesn’t want the 14th Amendment to override the Tenth, which empowers states. Mitt Romney supported protection for conscience in Illinois but fanned on the 14th Amendment question because it “would create a constitutional crisis” and “that’s not something I would precipitate.” 

The tragedy of Newt Gingrich was apparent once again. He showed again that he has the best-stocked mind of all the candidates. He eloquently quoted concerns of the Founders about Supreme Court oligarchy and spoke of the need to defend the Constitution against untrustworthy judges. Too bad Newt hasn’t dealt openly with his past and convinced his former colleagues that he is trustworthy. 

— Marvin Olasky is the editor-in-chief of WORLD.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review