Michele Bachmann was what she is. She believes in what she says. Disagree with her but she's not a sham. She answered the questions straight away, as best she could. Her weakness, however, was exposed. She is not of presidential timbre. Her days as a serious contender are limited.
Rick Perry imploded. His labeling social security as a "Ponzi scheme" and a "lie" will haunt him forever. He referenced a contest between "reason and results", and favored the latter over the former. What the hell is that all about? He eschewed any form of Federal intervention, yet proclaimed its necessity in dealing with illegal immigration. And, will someone formally introduce him to the letter "g" as mandatorily following "i" and "n" as a word ending? Outside of Texas ain't heaven after all.
The MSNBC pundits hailed Mitt Romney as having performed (used advisedly) the best. Maybe, by process of elimination. But when he leaves the scripted page, his ad libs lead him to no man's land, with fingers crossed in hope of an accurate return to base. Mr. Slick. Is there a soul donator out there?
Jon Huntsman was tentative in assuming the role of the party moderate with the distinguishing asset of electability. This was his chance to make his mark, but he dodged the brand of "independent". Too afraid to leave the pack. Too resistant to harsh words for his rivals. There's still time, but the meter is running. Be bold, Governor/Ambassador. Revamp and energize.
Curiously, Rick Santorum made inconsistant sense. Looked at ease and confident, but where's he going?
Why did the moderators and cameras give so much time to Ron Paul? Another Libertarian true believer, but hardly deserving the status of a standard for comparison.
In general, the candidates pitched the formula of non-fedreal intervention into anything. They refuse to recognize that some societal situations require just that, because the vaulted public sector disavows responsibility. This is a centuries-old concept and it should be a given. Ridiculing the world of science on matters of global warming and evolution is merely a pitch to Tea Party votes. It defies common sense, which are two bad words.
Ironically, the debaters referred, constantly and glowingly, to Ronald Reagan. Deliberately ignored was the fact that this iconic President served his country by relying on bipartisanship. This is an anathema to to the right-wing-controlled Republican party. Its challenge will come in the general election.