US presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain staged their very own presidential debate on Saturday evening, and it was about as far from the showbiz rough-and-tumble of the usual debates as you’re likely to get.
Both Gingrich and Cain promised that the debate would be just that: an actual debate. True to their word, both candidates used the opportunity to talk in much more detail about issues that are usually glossed over in the more confrontational debates that are so beloved of the media. There was very little real disagreement on display here, with the candidates agreeing on many – though not all – subjects.
Herman Cain’s recent ‘difficulties’ weren’t mentioned, as was fitting for a debate that promised to be about substance rather than style. And to be fair, both candidates came out of the evening rather well. Cain in particular showed that he can debate topics in detail, something that many critics have suggested might be beyond his abilities. And Gingrich played the grandfatherly establishment role to perfect. Both men probably improved their campaigns significantly with their performances.
Will the debate change the outcome of the Republican presidential race? That’s the million dollar question, and it will take a few weeks to see whether Cain and Gingrich experience any real boost to their poll numbers. If they do, we might see a whole new side to the other candidates as these ‘fireside chats’ start to really take off.