I'll copy my own comment to a NY Times article here:
In terms of performance and audience reaction, not my politics: 1) Ron Paul 2) Michelle Bachmann 3) Newt Gingrich 4/5) Mitt Romney/Herman Cain 6) Rick Santorum 7)Tim Pawlenty 8) Jon Huntsman
Of course, no one really cares about this debate except Fox, the debators and their tiny audience. Gingrich, Santorum, Pawlenty and Huntsman should do themselves a favor and just go home and hope to be picked VP. Cain can hang out a little while but unless everyone folds except Romney he has no chance. Michelle Bachmann should wait and see what happens. Although she handles herself well, better than she used to, Pawlenty did point out that she hasn't accomplished much herself. But, that shouldn't be the "decider" as she is definately an outsider. Ron Paul doesn't have a lot of accomplishments either, if you just count legislation with his name on it, but I think he has moved the political world. Since Gary Johnson can't even get on the stage, he is my personal choice for president too. However, the applause he received, more than anyone else, as in '08, doesn't translate into votes. What affect will Rick Perry have on all this. I really don't know. Is he another Fred Thompson? I watched Perry's debates last time and frankly, Kinky Friedman was a lot more fun.
Unfortunately, I am not a super-Paulist either. While I find him more honest than most other politicians, more real, more in line with my republican, democratic and libertarian notions (small "R," small "D," small "L"), I am not sure his return to the gold standard, his desire to end the fed (even slowly, as he said last night) and to forego all foreign intervention are right either in this complex world. But, I do like him better politically than anyone else on the stage and I loved it when he was asked if he could get his proposals through congress and he stuttered. What happened was that he realized that his answer - that it would be really hard to do so - goes against the make believe super-confidence that Americans seem to want to hear from their politicians. But, in the end, Paul gave the honest answer. He also was a little less than straight on Santorum's question to him about whether polygamy would be okay in a state. His libertarian and constitutional philosophy says - there's nothing anyone can do about it. But, he hedged and didn't really answer the question. But, as Horace noted, even Homer nodded off sometimes.
Why won't people back Paul for president? Because his beliefs are not what we were taught in high school. He wants us to face reality and we are not ready. I'm afraid we need our teeth kicked in first.
A few more comments about the candidates. Bachmann is really short. I wonder if the problem short people have running for president in the television age will affect her or if there will be a pass for women on it. My advice to her. Stop pretending you have accomplishments. Acknowledge it. But, you can credibly say it is because you are on the outside looking in and you are fighting for something. Ron Paul acknowledges it like that. Also, stop trying to pretend you know anything about history. Go study for a while. But, you are photogenic and personally likeable to those who don't hate you for political reasons (of course, I find most politicians likeable, with some exceptions). You have a good story, but it can't be all you have. Nor can bashing Obama. What do you think you are going to show Obama at the Ames Poll? It has nothing to do with him. Stop saying it. You handled the questions well at the debate, particularly that ridiculous one about submitting to your husband. A good sense of humor is the best defense against insanity.
Huntsman - Maybe Utah is a little different than the rest of America. But, while I'm sure you are a good person (I think, anyway), you come off as pompous, above it all and not particularly gregarious. I'm glad to see you have some independent positions, but, I think you should go back to the business world.
Romney - I still think you have the best chance to win, but that is based on the polls, not your politics or personality. I can't say what affect Perry will have on you either, but I tend to think he will cut into Bachmann's voters more than yours. People who like you want a Republican who won't frighten independents as opposed to the Limbaughites who would rather go down in flames than surrender a point. I still don't trust you. While I thought that the whole flip flop thing about John Kerry was just a good political campaign (although I personally and politically do not like him), I think it is more true of you. I saw a list the other day of flip flops by you and they were fair criticisms. Many of them you deny or try to explain away. Own up to most of them. Yes, I believed that then, but not any more. And I did not buy your reasoning why marriage should be federal. If you are concerned because it is a status that has affect in other states if you move, then just enforce the constitution, which requires states to honor the decrees of other states.
I understand you have to run to the right now, but, you can't tie yourself in such knots that at the end of the day, independents like myself will not vote for you. Leave gays, atheists and American Muslims alone. You've already stated some opinions, and they are not as bad as some others have made, but, I would keep out of it. I don't really believe you are antagonistic against them in your heart.
Cain - I thought you did well for your audience last night. And your exuberance and folksiness would play off well against Romney if it were just the two of you. But, it's not and you are lost out there. The whole stupid Shariah thing you've gotten yourself into also plays well into the conservative base, but it makes independents cringe. Let me explain it one more time - there is no threat of Shariah in America. You sound like someone warning of the yellow peril. Stop already. Feel free to point out that there is a terrorist threat. I agree. And we - including American Muslims, have to be conscious and vigilant about it. But stop with the Shariah nonsense. Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich will think it's great, but you are making a fool of yourself.
Gingrich - As you usually do, you impressed me last night. You are smart, you didn't go with soundbites as asked (Bachmann and Romney did, right off the bat) and you showed that only Paul was in your league in discussing the issues. However, even though the audience loved you bucking the media like that - it doesn't play well to independents. To me, it appeared like you were picking a fight rather with Chris Wallace rather than face your own failures. I've said it before - you should not have run. Don't be angry when the media picks up on your negatives. At least he didn't mention your wife. Besides, Wallace is well liked at Fox. If you have them mad at you - who will be on your side? By the way - is that a trick of the lense or do you really need to go on a diet?
Santorum - really, even conservatives aren't buying your I'm more anti-abortion than you bit. I appreciate it. I've always said, it is illogical to be against abortion on moral grounds but believe it is okay if the fetus is a product of rape or incest. Your comparison of the rapist who can't be executed under the law, but his baby can, was actually quite good. But, hate to tell you this - no one much cares. From what I can tell of the difficult to read polls, Americans are against abortion on demand, but believe early term is okay, and even when they are against it, they want it for cases of rape or incest (and the mother's health). But, these are generally rare, so it doesn't have a big impact on people. Seriously, you and Huntsman in particular have no possible chance. Forget it. Go home.
T-Paw - This was your big shot and you did not win. You can't. You probably would be a good president and I like most things about you except your religious issues, but, you seemed petulant and childish arguing with Bachmann, and I thought she came off much better than you did. Sorry, but you need to go home too. I would say the same thing even if you win the straw poll.
That should do it. I wish the Dems had a contest too. I love this stuff.