Frankly, I was impressed by all five. All of them could think on their feet, answer tough questions convincingly, and all had worthwhile ideas on how to improve the economy and save the US from financial collapse.
Herman Cain was especially impressive. He came across as a common-sense, straight talking man with a sense of humor and practical ideas. He was the only candidate that stressed energy independence by exploiting our oil and gas reserves here at home.
A panel of South Carolina Republicans was hosted by Fox News, and asked who they thought won the debate. Herman Cain was the overwhelming winner, for the reasons I described above. (See video embedded below.)
In truth, I could vote for any of the five in good conscience. Tim Pawlenty convinced me that his earlier exploration of the costs and benefits of cap and trade was a mistake, and that his fact-finding on the subject had convinced him some years ago that cap and trade was a bad idea.
I have been worried about Ron Paul's stand on Israel, but he did a good job of deflecting my fears, at least momentarily. My opinion of Ron Paul continues to rise.
Gary Johnson's explanation of what should replace the "war on drugs" was quite impressive and struck me as much more effective than the criminalization of drug use, the system that we have now.
What I saw tonight was a group of convincing problem-solvers. I think the Republican field is impressive for the 2012 elections. Hope lives!