A Few Thoughts on the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate


Overall:  I liked having the different CNBC anchors and reporters asking questions.  I think that ultimately this election is going to come down to a question of who best suited to guide the economy going forward.  I feel that the CNBC staff brought a level of knowledge about the economy,  how businesses work, and the important issues facing us that were sorely missing in previous debates.  I thought the questions were very good,  much better than any other debate.  I also liked the format that spread the time out much more evenly among the candidates  and did not simply focus on the front runners.  I think this gave the viewers a chance to better understand all the candidates and their positions.

On the various topics in the debate I have the following:

Overseas Competition and China:  Cain said his tax plan would level the playing field with foreign competition.  Mitt Romney said that he would label China a currency manipulator, and that he would go after China for industrial espionage for hacking into our computers.  On the subject of US Businesses being forced into Joint Ventures in China with Chinese companies versus being able to invest directly in China, Newt said that he would focus on making the US more competitive.  Both he and Mitt criticized the theft of intellectual property by China.

Budget Deficit:  All want to cut spending and not raise taxes. All the Republican candidates voiced concerns that the United States will eventually face its own debt crisis if it does not get its deficit spending under control.

Housing Crisis:  All favored letting the market clear the excess housing supply and the elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.   All said that getting the economy growing again would help out the housing market.  Also said that the Obama administration’s approach was the wrong way to do things.

Bi-partisanship:  All said they would be willing to work with the Democrats,  but would stay focused on doing what is best for the country.

Healthcare Reform:  All the candidates favor the abolishment of Obamacare and free market reforms for healthcare.  Key points include allowing citizens to buy health insurance across state lines,  leveling the playing field by allowing individuals to deduct the cost of their insurance and placing them on the same footing as corporations.  This is a very key point.  This will allow individuals to own their health insurance and not be tied to corporations in order to keep their insurance.

Tax Reform:  All of the candidates favor tax reform,  flattening the tax code,  with most favoring a flat tax.  Mitt Romney,  Rick Santorum, and do not favor a flat tax.

Government Reform:  Everyone wants to reduce the size of the Federal Government.

Unions and the Boeing Plant:  Herman said that the government should not be choosing if unions are forced on companies. No one disagreed with him.

Social Security:  Newt said that he favors allowing younger Americans the option of opting out and into market based retirement program.  Rick Perry obviously favors the Corpus Christie program.

Student Loan Debt:  Ron Paul criticized the student loan program.  Said that there is no authority in the constitution for the Federal Government to be involved in education.  Said that when the government inflates the currency, then inflation is the greatest in the areas the government is involved in the most.  Education is hit hard by this.  Newt criticized the heavy union control of education.

On the individual candidates I have the following:

Rick Perry: I was really hoping Rick Perry would put in a solid performance.  I thought he was doing so until he had a hard time remembering the name of the 3rd government agency he would eliminate.  At first I wasn’t really concerned about this,  but then the more I think about it I have concerns about how well Rick Perry believes in his own convictions.  I think he can recover from this,  but he really needs to put in a strong performance from now through the end of the debate season.

Mitt Romney:  Thought that he performed well.  He continues to look like he will be the eventual nominee to take on Barrack Obama.

Herman Cain:  Focuses a little too much on the 9-9-9 plan.  I have been a fan of Herman’s in previous debates.  However all of his answers ultimately reverted to the 9-9-9 plan.  I am beginning to be concerned that he doesn’t have much beyond 9-9-9, and he is just riding this horse as far as he can.  However, I do agree with his statements that the Tax Code is a major key to solving our problems.  As a result,  I do not know if he has much upside left.  I like Herman Cain,  but I am also concerned that it soon could start to be all downhill.    I previously thought Herman had a good shot at being on the ticket as the Vice-Presidential nominee,  now I feel that the sexual harassment claims will be too much of a distraction.

Newt Gingrich:  Performed very well.  The debates have obviously helped Newt as he has risen in the polls between this and the prior debate.  Also,  Newt has seen an increase in his fund raising between debates. I think there is a very good chance that Newt will continue to gain momentum and could end up as the potential challenger to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.  I think there is a good chance he could the Republican ticket could be a combination of Romney and Gingrich.  I think a debate between Newt and either Obama or Biden would be an incredible thing to watch.

Jon Huntsman:  I think  Jon Huntsman has a very impressive resume and is a serious contender for the Vice-Presidential slot on the ticket.  However, his attempts at jokes continue to fall flat in a way that make me uncomfortable.  Not sure what is really going on with Jon Huntsman;  but time will probably clarify the situation.

Ron Paul:  Mr. Paul continues to provide solid performances and deliver his message.  I am not sure what Ron Paul’s real goal is.  Is he really electable in a general election?  Is he in this in order to influence the debate?  Or to remind the American public about the proper role of government? I’ve got a lot more questions about Ron Paul than I have answers;  however at the end of the day I am glad he is there.

Rick Santorum:  I do not think he will be in the contest much past the Iowa Caucus or New Hampshire Primary.  I used to think he was in this running for Vice-President,  not sure what he is doing anymore.  I do not think he has broad appeal, and I do not think he has a big enough draw to be considered for the Vice-President’s position on the ticket.  I do not think he is in this to influence the debate. I am beginning to think he is in this add to his power in the Senate.  One thing I do not like about Rick Santorum is his proposal to have no tax on manufacturing.  This is another example of the government picking winners and losers;  something that the government should try to avoid doing at all costs.  I think it is a back door appeal to the unions, and that makes me nervous about Mr. Santorum.

Michele Bachmann:  I do not think she is a serious contender for the nomination.  I think she will be one of the 1st to drop out of the race.

Previous Debates:

Our comments on the CNN/Las Vegas – Republican Presidential Debate can be found here.

Our comments on the Bloomberg News – Republican Presidential Debate can be found here.

Our comments on the Fox News – Republican Presidential Debate can be found here.

Our comments on the Republican CNN/Tea Party Debate can be found here.

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