Without going into a lot of detail, I name Herman Cain the winner of tonight's Fox-Google debate in Orlando, Florida, with Rick Santorum coming in a close second.
But in all honesty, the person who will probably come out best in this debate is the man I put in the number three position, Mitt Romney.
I'd have to put Gingrich at fourth, Bachmann at fifth, and Perry at sixth. Rounding out the rest of the field, I put Paul at seventh, Huntsman eighth, and Gary Johnson at ninth for his debut debate performance.
The person who might have knocked the wind out of Perry's sails, maybe permanently, wasn't Bachmann or Mitt, but Santorum, who made it plain he wasn't letting Perry skate on his policy of subsidizing university educations for children of illegal immigrants when American citizens are obliged to pay the full amount. He was also as tough as you'd expect on foreign policy and social issues, not backing down from any challenges.
Still, I have to give the overall victory to Cain, who offered a compelling story of a stage four cancer survivor, who succinctly made the case that, had he been obliged to seek treatment under Obamacare, he would not be alive today. He also made a better case for his 9-9-9 Plan, and his advocacy for the "Chilean Model" retirement system.
Unfortunately, this is probably the last stand for Michelle Bachmann. She made a big mistake focusing on Perry, which she did to great effect during the last debate. Tonight it was expected. She would have been better advised to concentrate on Romney who, though he is in second place behind Perry in most recent polls, is still trending upward, gaining on Perry to within the margin of error in most of these polls.
But she did not focus on Romney, nor did anyone else, except Perry of course, and that is a big mistake. Mitt is sailing through while also leading the others in the charge on Perry. In doing so, Mitt is looking every inch like the leader he's trying to portray himself as. It's a smart strategy, because the way things stand, Mitt will regain front-runner status within the coming weeks.
Paul did an admirable job of explaining his position regarding the border fence "locking us in". Unfortunately, his explanation is inapplicable to the modern age of electronic wire transfers, a world where not even organized crime syndicates carry their cash in trunks across the borders. But at least his stand didn't sound quite as nutty.
Gary Johnson got probably the biggest laugh of the night when he said his neighbors two dogs had created more shovel ready jobs than had Obama. But let's face it, Johnson, Paul, and more than likely Huntsman are basically distractions, and I commend the good sense of Thad McCotter for recognizing the reality and ending his ill-advised bid.
I still hold out hope Palin will enter the fray. If she does, it will quickly evolve into a two person race between her and Mitt Romney. And the sooner all the others drop out, the sooner Sara turns Mitt into a two-time loser.
But for the time being, if just for this night, Herman Cain, and to a lesser extent Santorum, proved their mettle tonight.