In the first hour of the South Carolina GOP candidates debate, there was no clear winner. In the bonus on-line time, there wasn't much difference. Everyone did well, and as Newt Gingrich pointed out, everyone on that stage would be an improvement over president Obama. Everyone handled themselves as expected, and there were no real surprises.
Cain may have started out ambiguous on Pakistan, but provided parameters on how to evaluate Pakistan in terms of whether they were a friend or foe. Perry provided a good talking point about starting foreign aid budgets at $0, although the foreign aid budgets are small. Bachmann in turn chided Perry indirectly on Pakistan, making the point that the nuclear weaponry and terrorism in the region issue is too complex to just pull aid.
|Disagrees with Newt.|
Gingrich made solid points lecturing questioner Scott Pelley on American citizens joining Al Qaida being outside of American law and therefore should be addressed as an enemy combatant in a war. Santorum made solid points on a number of points, and even Huntsman made some ground on China. Ron Paul was his typical out-of-kilter self on foreign policy but while he did himself no good, he did himself no harm either because his supporters have factored that into their support already and many would indeed endorse his positions.
The clear conclusion is that on foreign policy, everyone on the stage was solid, with the exception of Ron Paul. But no one was outstanding for positive or negative. I'd call the debate a full-on draw, and the existing momentum in polling will likely not be changed. There may be a stopping of the hemorrhaging for Perry, as he had probably his best debate to date. He was solid enough, but at this point it is likely too little too late to make for a Perry surge.