GOP presidential debate mini roundup: Herman Cain won

The first GOP presidential primary debate is behind us. Fox News hosted the event in South Carolina last night. It featured five second-tier candidates and the news is that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty didn’t lose and that Herman Cain, the Georgia political figure, motivational speaker and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, may have won. Rightwing RedState blog founder Erick Erickson celebrated Cain as the new Mike Huckabee!

“[Cain] went from being unknown to a household name,” Erickson wrote in his morning wrap up.

He gave the best one liners and a brilliant defense of his lack of elected experience. He pointed out all the guys in Washington who have been elected and asked, “How’s that working out for ya?” It was a golden moment.

Cain also shined because of his business experience. He stood out from the crowd in knowledge of private sector job creation, the effects of government regulation, etc. Chris Wallace asked him how he could be elected President. Tonight we know – through sheer force of personality….

The more the voting pubic hears of Herman Cain, the more his rivals are going to come after him. He is this year’s Mike Huckabee.

Some will see Cain less as a 2012 Huckabee and more as a 2012 Palin, in that the one-liners may come to seem less charming and more like covering as the months before the election (19 of them!) wear on.

Here’s what Cain looks like without one-liners, answering a real question. He stumbles over the facts, gathering a Cliff Notes version of events into a narrative that will support an agenda that will turn off mainstream U.S. voters.

Gawker’s take on Cain is typically toss off and spot on:

Herman Cain, if president, says he’d answer more questions about The Mission before determining whether we stay in Afghanistan. Why not just answer them now, Candidate? Oh, he’s not “privy” to classified information now, so who knows? A durable answer for any two-year presidential campaign.

Slate’s Dave Weigel was at the debate and had the same take on Cain: The motivational speaker triumphed by speaking well without saying anything.

Cain, the businessman and motivational speaker, just kept repeating that he had plans to solve problems, and the candidates with careers in politics didn’t have plans. The thing about repeatedly saying you have a plan is that an audience believes it. Cain did well in a post-debate focus group conducted by Frank Luntz for Fox News because, to use some of their words, Cain was “articulate” and he “had plans.”

Also on stage were libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Paul is the congressman from Texas and Johnson was the governor of New Mexico. They don’t think the government should be in the business of forcing Christian conservative values on women, gay people and pot smokers. They also think the government must stop borrowing money to spend in Afghanistan and Iraq. In other words, they believe in small government. They would have a better chance of winning the presidency outright than they do of winning the GOP nomination.

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