From abc NEWS:
DES MOINES — Walking amid the good folk and food booths and rides at the Iowa State Fair, it’s hard to get a sense people are fixated on politics in the aftermath of the Republican debate and before the important straw vote in Ames.
Iowans seem more intent on viewing the giant carved butter cow in the Ag building or sampling the newest featured food at this fair – deep fried butter on a stick.
In the debate, some candidates reappeared, some candidates disappeared and one new big player is about to appear. For the last few weeks, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty have basically gone off most folks’ radar screen – but that changed. Each showed up in a much more forceful way. Pawlenty had a number of skirmishes and exchanges with the other candidates, especially Michelle Bachmann. And she definitely held her own.
Gingrich seemed to want to get in an argument more with the moderator than the other candidates, and showed some passion which we haven’t seen in a while. Jon Huntsman, who has had a hard time getting traction since his announcement, basically disappeared over the two hours. He didn’t get much time and what he said was not very memorable.
And finally, the candidate who is about to appear, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was part of the conversation at the debate and much of the discussion amongst the media as well as voters outside the hall. If you had to pick a winner last night, it was probably Perry. You got a palpable sense that everybody is waiting for him to get into the race and all know they are going to have to react to this Texan who will walk in with boots on and bravado in hand.
The debate highlighted that in the back-and-forth between Bachmann and Pawlenty, they see the results of the straw vote as key to their future prospects. Each needs to do well to be able to continue to build credibility and cash, and if they don’t meet expectations, their prospects are greatly diminished and may not make it to the Iowa caucuses in January.
Ames won’t pick the presidential winner, but it certainly will help pick the losers. Many candidates will either drop out not longer after the straw vote or be left floundering. While Perry will initially increase the field of candidates when he gets in, the field will be quickly shortened after the straw vote.
So enjoy the last days of summer, eat something fried and on a stick, take your kids or your friends to a fair in your area and get ready for a roller coaster ride in the up-and-down of politics starting next week.
From The New York Times:
AMES, Iowa — A withering critique of President Obama’s handling of the economy was overshadowed by a burst of incivility among the Republican presidential candidates who gathered here for a debate on Thursday night and fought to stay alive in the party’s increasingly fractious nominating race.
The simmering animosity that has been building among some contenders broke into full view during the two-hour debate, with Representative Michele Bachmann defending her legislative accomplishments, her economic ideas and her experience to serve as president. She batted away the criticism, smiling at times and swinging at others, trying to prove she could take the heat.
Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor who is seeking to rejuvenate his campaign, repeatedly assailed Mrs. Bachmann’s record. He stood directly at her side and accused her of “making false statements” and having “a record of misstatements.”
“The American people are going to expect more and demand more,” he said. His criticism was so stinging, quiet jeers could be heard in the crowd. He added: “If that’s your view of effective leadership with results, please stop, because you’re killing us.”
As the rest of the field looked on, Mrs. Bachmann shot back that Mr. Pawlenty pursued policies as Minnesota governor that sound “a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.” She cited his support for cap-and-trade environmental policies and for individual health care mandates.
Mitt Romney, who was positioned at the center of the stage, sought to stay above the fray as he stood silently and watched the Minnesota politicians engage in their unusually sharp back and forth. He brushed aside a suggestion that he had not played a leading role in the debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
When Mr. Pawlenty served up a gentle dig at Mr. Romney’s wealth, offering to mow just one acre of Mr. Romney’s estate, Mr. Romney laughed it off, saying, “That’s just fine.” Later, when in a contrast to his previous debate performance, Mr. Pawlenty attacked Mr. Romney for his health care plan and compared it to the president’s plan, Mr. Romney simply joked, “I think I like Tim’s answer at the last debate better.”
Bret Baier, a Fox News anchor who served as the moderator, opened the debate by reciting a list of the challenges facing the country, from the downgrade in the nation’s credit rating, to the fall of financial markets, to the helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed 30 American troops. He urged a civil conversation.
But the debate’s proximity to Saturday’s straw poll, a sink-or-swim moment for several candidates, led to the biggest display yet of combativeness among candidates who often evoke Ronald Reagan, but did not heed his 11th commandment, not to speak ill of fellow Republicans.
As Mr. Pawlenty tore after Mrs. Bachmann, Newt Gingrich went after the news media. Representative Ron Paul of Texas joined in the fight, taking exception to Mrs. Bachmann’s legislative record. Herman Cain, a businessman who has drawn large crowds in Iowa, dismissed all of his rivals as career politicians.
At one point, Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, raised his hand for attention and asked moderators to be included. When he finally was given his turn, he went after nearly all of his rivals, accusing Mrs. Bachmann of “showmanship, not leadership” by opposing raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
In the middle of it all, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor making his debut on the debate stage, struggled to be heard. Again and again, he urged his rivals to focus on creating jobs.
Other than a brief moment at the beginning of the second hour, when the debate returned from commercial break and Mrs. Bachmann was nowhere to be found, striding to her lectern just moments later, the Minnesota congresswoman kept her cool.
When Byron York, a conservative columnist at The Washington Examiner who was on the panel of questioners, asked Mrs. Bachmann about her vow to be submissive to her husband, Marcus, the audience gasped and then booed. She smiled, paused and replied, “Thank you for that question, Byron.”
“What submission means to us, if that’s what your question is,” she added, “it means respect.”