At Reagan’s House
The Gipper can’t rate the candidates, but our panel does.



There was no clear winner in Wednesday night’s debate, but there was a clear loser, and that was President Obama. Most of the attacks were on President Obama and not on other Republican candidates. It is evident that all of the Republican candidates have a better understanding of what it will take to get the U.S. out of this current economic crisis. This is what is important to the people across America and to tea-party activists.  

While it is interesting to see the differences between the candidates participating in last night’s debate, I look forward to the field narrowing so that we can be more laser-focused on the issues that are important to the tea-party movement. In future debates, I hope to hear about what the candidates will do as president. Instead of comparing the candidates and their past records as governors, as well as previous statements and comments, we want to hear more about their ideas and solutions for returning America to the road to prosperity, so that we remain the “Shining City on the Hill.”

— Amy Kremer is chairman of the Tea Party Express.


Rick Perry filled the screen and the stage for the first nine minutes (and not just because he was asked the first question; it was his body language, spoken language, and overall demeanor) — until he unloaded the Dukakis line on Mitt Romney. It was too early, too small, and came off too hard for the moment. It was forgotten as the night went on, as it should have been. 

Every expert and pundit has what he or she thinks the American people are looking for in voting for a president. Here’s mine: a man or woman about whom, when they go to sleep, they can sleep knowing everything will be okay under their president’s watch. It requires good cheer, confidence, command, and competence. I think people were looking to see if the new candidate, Perry, had all that, plus one more thing: the ability to stand up in the heat of a general debate. He did, enough for Wednesday night. There will be harder questions for him coming, both on his record and on his proposals. 


This is a Romney/Perry race — many have been saying that for about a month now. It still is. And Perry just kept his lead. Again, for right now. He’ll need to punch just a little softer in the next debate, and he’ll come under stricter scrutiny on a lot of specifics. Romney will have to punch a little harder in the next debate, to convince that he has what it takes to take on the opponent who really counts, Barack Obama. After years of vetting, I think that’s still the biggest underlying concern about Mitt Romney. 


One minor comment about a second-tier candidate, as this debate was held at the Reagan Library: Ron Paul can revise history all he wants, but his 1987 letter of resignation from the GOP wasn’t just about deficits, it was also about increased military spending, an “irrational and unconstitutional foreign policy” (as he called it), funding the Contras, leaving us “less secure,” and much more, all laid at Reagan’s feet. What Paul faulted Reagan for in 1987 — whatever the administration’s fiscal failures given a country of divided government — they were reasons to join the GOP, not leave it.


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