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Tea Party Debate: Winners and Losers

Grade: B-: The former speaker's grade remains unchanged from last week as he performed well and managed to avoid criticism from opponents for his lack of detailed strategies. Expect Gingrich's grades to drop for as long as he doesn't get serious about specific policies.


Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.

The Good: Huntsman continued effortlessly to navigate questions about the economy as he is one of the few candidates with a concrete jobs and tax plan. Huntsman seized every situation to take a jab at either Romney or Perry and attempted to paint the frontrunners as stereotypical politicians who had little care for voters. He performed well on Afghanistan when he said that the reason the United States needed to leave the country was because America's core was crumbling, and that without a core we would be of no value to the rest of the world.

The Bad: Huntsman has tried to project himself as the candidate who isn't Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. That's fine, but voters need to know the name of that candidate. Further, it's acceptable for Huntsman to hammer the frontrunners, but at times he seemed to come off as elitist and downright negative. Huntsman criticized Perry's program that gave assistance to illegal immigrants who wanted a state university education. But when asked about a program he created as governor of Utah that allowed illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license, Huntsman didn't do a clear job to distinguish how his program was fundamentally different from Perry's.

Grade: C+ Huntsman lost some ground this week as he didn't have a moment that screamed for distinction. Huntsman has run on the economy, but his strength is international relations.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.



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