As I watched Monday night’s debate, I kept waiting for the same-old, same-old. You know… the cheap shots, the canned lines, the cheesy questions. It’s the kind of thing that makes me tune out of watching debates. Granted, this debate had some of those elements, but it was refreshing in that the candidates focused not on each other, but on their target: Barack Obama.

First, some of the downside. The event, held in Manchester, New Hampshire, was hosted by CNN and moderated by CNN host John King. Throughout the entire debate, King continually made annoying little sounds and grunts. At times, it was apparent that he was trying to get a candidate to wrap up a comment, but at other times, it seemed that he was grunting just to grunt. This was quite annoying.

Then, there were the “this or that” questions. Again, with my general dislike of media sound bites and canned responses in these debates, I loved how the candidates addressed the issues. So, I don’t really care if Newt Gingrich prefers American Idol over Dancing with the Stars or if Herman Cain prefers deep dish to thin crust. It was just a waste of time.

Ok, now to the candidates and the debate. The field included the following:

  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum
  • Former Gov. Mitt Romney
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann
  • Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  • Rep. Ron Paul
  • Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain

The candidates all had their moments. They sounded sharp and on message and gave quality answers to the issues facing America. Even Ron Paul sounded good at times, but then he would go off on the “military / industrial complex.” Who even says that anymore? (Sorry, I digressed.)

Bachmann used the event to officially kick off her presidential campaign:

Here is a sampling of the candidates on the issue of the economy:

Cain was asked about his previous comments regarding Muslims serving in his cabinet. This led to some interesting responses by the candidates, and it gave Gingrich an opportunity to give what I thought was one of the best lines of the entire evening.

The candidates were asked about their thoughts on the separation of church and state, and I thought Pawlenty gave an excellent response:

All in all, the candidates did well. It’s interesting to read the CNN report on the debate. Near the bottom, the report reads:

CNN iReporter Egberto Willies challenged the value of the entire debate, saying it “lacked intellect.”

“We heard nothing but talking points,” he said. “We’ve given these guys a platform to spill talking points that ultimately will never solve America’s problems.”

Was this person even watching the debate? Through the entire two hours, the candidates pointed out what was wrong and what needed to be done. Did he expect legislation and thousands of pages of details? Hello! It’s called a televised debate. And this one was better than most as far as addressing issues and allowing Republican voters to get to know the candidates.

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