All the challenges facing the different candidates were on full display at last night’s debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Nor are the problems merely issues of bad debate prep, although some of the candidates could use better preparation to be sure. Each candidate faces a slightly different challenge in these forums and none of them except Newt Gingrich seems to rise to the occasion.
Gingrich was not only the first candidate to garner spontaneous applause for one of his answers, when he attacked Ben Bernanke and the press in a single breath. He also was the first candidate to interject himself forcefully and without being asked a question into a discussion of the effects of the European debt crisis, showing not only a command of the issue, adding something the previous candidates had neglected, but showing himself as the kind of guy who is willing to be pushy, to be assertive and combative when needed. It was very effective. Perhaps Gingrich was a bit overly flush with his awareness that he was again doing well for he went a tad far in suggesting that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank go to prison.