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Insiders: Romney, Gingrich Winners; Huntsman, Cain Losers in Saturday's Debate Insiders: Romney, Gingrich Winners; Huntsman, Cain Losers in Saturday'...

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Politics / CAMPAIGN 2012

Insiders: Romney, Gingrich Winners; Huntsman, Cain Losers in Saturday's Debate

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, speaks at the NJ/CBS debate.(Richard Shiro/AP)

November 12, 2011

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were the winners of Saturday's National Journal/CBS News debate, according to a survey of Republican and Democratic political operatives, campaign consultants, and party strategists, in a special National Journal Political Insiders Poll conducted Saturday.

Asked who was the “biggest winner” in the debate, half of Republican Insiders named Romney, with another 30% pointing to Gingrich. Democratic Insiders gave the nod to Gingrich with 55%.

Who do you think was the biggest winner of the debate?

Republicans (30 votes)

 
  • Romney  50%
  • Gingrich  30%
  • Perry  13.3%
  • Bachmann  3.3%
  • Santorum  3.3%
  • Cain  0%
  • Huntsman  0%
  • Paul  0%

Who do you think was the biggest winner of the debate?

Democrats (20 votes)

  • Gingrich  55%
  • Romney  20%
  • Huntsman  15%
  • Perry  10%
  • Bachmann  0%
  • Cain  0%
  • Paul  0%
  • Santorum  0%

Republican Insiders noted Romney’s poise. He was “best [in] style and substance,” said one respondent, while another praised his “statesmanlike decorum.”

“By not making any gaffes and otherwise looking presidential,” said a third GOP Insider, “Romney looked steady and up to the task at the Commander-in-Chief debate tonight.”

A Democratic Insider agreed, giving Romney the single-word compliment: “Solid.”

Other Insiders also noticed the unwillingness of the rest of the field to attack Romney. “No one laid a glove on him,” said a Republican operative. A Democratic respondent suggested, “It's obvious no one wants to beat up on someone seen as the most electable of the bunch.”

The other perceived winner of the night was Gingrich, whose candidacy has experienced a resurgence of interest in recent days.

“Newt is gaining momentum, is capitalizing on opportunities, politely engages his opponents and continues to come across as the candidate with the most depth on issues,” said one Republican Insider.

“Newt shines in this setting,” raved another. “He’s knowledgable, his answers are consistent with where most Republicans are, and his style is one many would love to see go up against Obama.”

Some Democratic Insiders agreed. “Poised, articulate, with coherent policy answers and good command of crowd-pleasing code words,” said one. “His self-confidence trumped his intellectual arrogance,” added another.

Still, at least one Republican Insider saw it a bit more cynically: “The boomlet the media wants is fed. But he won't be the nominee.”

Insiders were least impressed with Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain.

Who do you think was the biggest loser of the debate?

Republicans (30 votes)

  • Huntsman  36.7%
  • Cain  23.3%
  • Paul  13.3%
  • Perry  10%
  • Romney  10%
  • Bachmann  3.3%
  • Santorum  3.3%
  • Gingrich  0%

Who do you think was the biggest loser of the debate?

Democrats (20 votes)

  • Cain  35%
  • Bachmann  25%
  • Perry  25%
  • Huntsman  5%
  • Paul  5%
  • Romney  5%
  • Gingrich  0%
  • Santorum  0%

Some Republican Insiders were frustrated by a sense that Huntsman was advocating foreign policy positions similar to President Obama’s, for whom he served as Ambassador to China.

“This should have been his night and yet his most passionate responses basically were justifications for Obama's foreign policy, particularly in regard to China,” said one GOP Insider.

Others simply felt Huntsman failed to live up to expectations.

“A foreign policy debate was supposed to be his chance to impress,” said a Republican respondent, “and yet he came off just like any of the other lower-tier candidates.” Said another, “This should have been his debate, but he was hardly noticeable.”

Democrats criticized Cain for a lack of depth, suggesting that the former Godfather’s Pizza executive had failed to become sufficiently informed on foreign affairs.

“Herman Cain was vague, lacked serious knowledge, and spent the whole night trying to stay out of trouble,” said one Democrat. “It was a deer in the headlights performance.” Another said Cain “basically bluffed his way through every answer,” while a third said he “tried to muddle through, but was clearly out of his element.”

Some Republicans agreed. “Cain looked terribly uncomfortable talking about foreign policy and his answers were those of a novice,” said one GOP Insider. Another Republican agreed that Cain “seemed unsure of the content and simplified answers that relied on basic knowledge of process.”

“Simply put,” stated a third Republican, “the weakest aspect of his candidacy.”

The National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Political Insiders who are surveyed:

Democrats: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

Republicans: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O'Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

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