Tonight, CNN hosted the second debate of the Republican presidential primary season. It was the first debate to include big-time candidates like Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann and also Newt Gingrich, although we would not characterize him as “big-time.” The debate focused mostly on domestic topics, and included Michele Bachmann literally announcing her candidacy for president, Tim Pawlenty disowning his own attack on Mitt Romney’s health-care plan, and Herman Cain saying things about pizza and Sharia. For those of you who chose, for some reason, not to watch a two-hour debate seventeen months before the presidential election, we’ve put together this easily digestible summary of what transpired. (Or you can watch the debate in four minutes here.)
Most Meaningless Self-Descriptor: Tim Pawlenty saying, “I’m a husband …. I’m the father of two beautiful daughters, I’m a neighbor.” Oh, so people live near you.
Time It Took for Someone to Claim That Obama Doesn’t Believe in American Exceptionalism: Thirteen minutes (Romney)
Best Way to Remind People That You’ve Been in Washington Forever: Newt Gingrich bragging about being part of the “Reagan recovery.”
Most Unsurprising Bombshell: Michele Bachmann announcing during a presidential debate that she’s running for president.
Time Until “ObamneyCare” Was Mentioned: 18 minutes
Meekest Moment: Tim Pawlenty barely defending his own assertion, made on Fox News Sunday yesterday, that President Obama’s health-care reform is basically “ObamneyCare.”
Most Uncomfortable Any of the Candidates Were at Any Time: Ron Paul, standing directly between Romney and Pawlenty as the two were going back and forth about “ObamneyCare.”
Time Until Tim Pawlenty Said “Meat-packing Town”: 31 minutes.
Three Most Memorable Things Herman Cain Said:
1. His Muslim hiring ban only extends to Muslims “that are trying to kill us.”
2. “I do not believe in Sharia law in American courts.”
3. Prefers deep-dish pizza.
Least-Bold Campaign Promise: Newt Gingrich will not allow car bombers into his administration.
Three Most Blue-Collar Ways Hometowns Were Described:
1. “Blue-collar town” (Pawlenty).
2 (tie). “Meat-packing town,” (Pawlenty); “Steel town,” (Santorum).
Number of Times Gingrich Said “Fundamentally”: 4.
Number of Times Sarah Palin Was Mentioned by Name: 1.
Most Unnecessarily Dodgy Answer of the Entire Night: “Both.” Michele Bachmann, when asked “Elvis or Johnny Cash?”
Most Over-the-Top, Unsupported Praise for Private Industry: Newt Gingrich claiming that if the private sector had spent the same amount of money on space exploration as NASA, “we would have a permanent station on the moon” and “three or four permanent stations in space.”
Issue Discussed That Voters Care About the Least: Government funding for space exploration.
Most Annoying Thing Debate Host John King Did: Mumble, or whatever the hell that was, throughout every response.
Statement Made Oddly Risky Because of the Influence of the Tea-Party Movement: “Federal government should be doing food safety.” Herman Cain
Time Rick Santorum Spent Looking Like He Was One Second Away From Snapping, Taking Out His Rage by Destroying the Podium With His Fists: The whole debate.
“Oh Snap” Moment: Michele Bachmann reading a quote from then-senator Barack Obama on how raising the debt ceiling was a “failure of leadership.”
Boldest Plan for Afghanistan: Mitt Romney saying that he wants a plan to safely hand Afghanistan over to the “Taliban military,” as a military man in the audience visibly flinches.
Biggest Pander (tie): Mitt Romney announcing that the hometown favorite Boston Bruins were up 4-0 in the Stanley Cup finals; Pawlenty saying that what he learned tonight was that the Boston Bruins have “more heart” than the Vancouver Canucks.
Biggest Contradiction: Michele Bachmann saying she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage while also claiming she wouldn’t interfere with state law. What about the states with laws allowing gay marriage?
Winner: Michele Bachmann. Exponentially more eloquent and more likable than Sarah whatsherface.
Loser: Herman Cain. Would have been Newt Gingrich if people had any hopes for his campaign anyway at this point.