I am continuing my commentary following Republican presidential debates. It is important because it will shape our future and this is a rare race in that people actually have a choice. If Ron Paul were not in this race, I would not be devoting even one quarter of the time that I have.
This debate had a slightly different feel, as there was no Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain. With only six candidates on stage, it allowed them to have more time to answer questions. It was also a little different with Newt Gingrich being one of the current front runners. He was attacked a lot more (and rightly so) and it forced him to start being critical of the other candidates, instead of him just being critical of the media and Obama as he has done in the past.
Early on in the debate, Romney was pointing out some of his differences with Gingrich. One of those things had to do with the space program. Gingrich said he thinks America needs a place in space. But doesn't this just go to the heart of Gingrich's philosophy? I love space and the idea of exploration, but I don't think it is the role of government to explore space or fund it. Gingrich is equating America with government. He thinks the bureaucracy in Washington DC is America. He thinks that the only way Americans will be in space is if it is run and funded by government.
Rick Perry continued to stumble with his words, but I still can't count him out. He has a lot of money and he may still be an alternative to some people if Gingrich self destructs.
I don't think there is much to add about Romney, Bachmann, or Santorum. There was nothing significant that stood out to me from the things they have said in the past.
As for Ron Paul, I thought he did an excellent job in the debate. It is always tough for me to judge on how a non-libertarian might view some of his answers. But I got the feeling that many non-libertarians would have liked many of his answers.
I liked Paul pointing out that he is the candidate that has remained consistent. Just about everyone who has been paying attention understands that this is the case, whether they agree with him or not on the issues.
I also liked that Paul pointed out that government is force. He was responding to a question related to healthcare and Obamacare. He pointed out an obvious but rarely mentioned fact that having to pay Medicare taxes is a mandate as you are essentially forced to do it. I don't know if that will win a lot of new votes, but it may convert a few more people towards libertarianism.
It was interesting that in the last round of questioning, both Romney and Perry gave compliments to Ron Paul. I think Perry's comment about thanking Ron Paul for hammering away on the Fed and leading him to studying it more shows a lot. It shows that Paul has been quite successful in his quest to educate people about the Federal Reserve. This is an issue that most people did not care about or even know about five years ago. Now it gets a lot of attention and the other candidates are realizing that the Fed is an issue that appeals to some voters.
Overall, I think this debate will benefit Ron Paul. His poll numbers have been rising slowly and steadily. Most of his supporters are not going anywhere, so I would be surprised to see his poll numbers drop (except for variances in the type of poll and the statistical sampling).
Ron Paul needs to win Iowa or come in a very strong second. His chances are better than I would have imagined just a few months ago.