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



Wednesday night, the American people saw the 2012 nominee of the Republican party and, quite possibly, the next president of the United States.

Republicans should feel good about this group and about their future nominee, whoever he or she is.

On stage Wednesday night were seven articulate men and one woman of capacity and good character, accomplished in the field of government and politics, the private sector, and family, all more or less quite capable of leading the GOP against the manifold excesses and abject failures of our preening and self-revering Man-child in Chief.

Our president is very much like one of the Kardashians; pretty to look at but oh-so-utterly clueless, shallow, vapid, and — in the end — incapable of anything other than just showing up for the paparazzi. 

These Republicans don’t have to be great (although the country certainly deserves a great president): They just have to be competent, a word never found in the lexicon of this White House, too focused on the language and politics of destruction.

Each of these Republicans understands the great problems facing our country and how to turn it around.

Each of these Republicans — unlike Obama — meets the test of the Founders, to bring experience and good character to the presidency.

This is something Ronald Reagan understood with every fiber of his being.

Somewhere, Wednesday night, Ronald Reagan was smiling.

— Craig Shirley is author of Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America.




The entrance of Perry into the 2012 campaign took the oxygen out of many competitors’ campaigns and effectively created a two-man race in the polls. Both men prevail against President Obama in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, and both men hold commanding leads over the rest of the primary pack. Wednesday night’s debate solidified this impression.

The good news for Republicans is that both Romney and Perry have had a nearly relentless focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.

Wednesday night, it was a subject on which viewers got to see the early shape of a core debate in the GOP primary. Governor Romney shifted from simply criticizing Obama’s lackluster record and instead promoted new ideas while taking on Perry’s claims of economic leadership. Governor Perry promoted his own Texas record, while needling Romney on the jobs picture in Massachusetts.

I believe the debate hinted at an emerging key question: Which economic record is more important — one from the state house or one from the private sector? (While Romney has both, his focus as of late has been on his private-sector credentials.) 

Romney remains a top force in this race, and Perry’s performance has made it a steep uphill climb for the rest of the GOP field. But it is how each candidate handles the issue of jobs that will define his or her success moving forward in this race.

— Kristen Soltis is director of policy research at The Winston Group.