Award Winners for Last Night's GOP Debate

Last night’s Republican presidential debate at the bucolic Dartmouth campus in New Hampshire, hosted by Bloomberg and the Washington Post, was by turns laugh-out-loud funny and downright boring. After collectively agreeing that President Obama’s health-care plan and business regulations must be repealed, the candidates set out to attacking one another. Some strikes were sharp and concise; others rambling and incoherent. And since they were sitting around a table, they had to look each other in the eye. To honor those efforts, we’re handing out our custom awards, which will also include Barry Nolan’s new favorite mascot, Keggy the Keg.

The “I’m sticking with my guns, no matter what” award goes to Herman Cain. The pizza CEO, who’s surging in polls, welcomed attacks from all corners on his 9-9-9 tax plan (which would replace the current tax code with a 9 percent income tax, 9 percent business tax, and 9 percent sales tax). The exhausted moderator, Charlie Rose, finally said: “So if you keep mentioning ‘9-9-9’ and Herman Cain, I’m going to have to go back to him every other question.”

The “I’m going to make George W. Bush look eloquent” award goes to: Rick Perry. At first, the Texas governor seemed like he was trying to set a single sentence record for the words “energy” and “America.” When he later tried to pivot and attack Mitt Romney on healthcare, Romney shut him down: “[Massachusetts has] less than 1 percent of our kids that are uninsured. You have a million kids uninsured in Texas. A million kids. Under President Bush, the percentage uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it’s gone up.” Burn.

The “I’m trying out for a QVC gig after my presidential run falls way short” award goes to: Michele Bachmann, who told audiences not once, but twice, to go to her website, We get it, Bachmann. You have a website. We could have found it with Google. You don’t have the same internet search problems that Rick Santorum does.

The “I am a serious candidate, despite sitting next to these clowns” award goes to: Mitt Romney. As the frontrunner, the former Massachusetts governor was the target of many of last night’s attacks. He handled them fairly gracefully (see his Rick Perry take-down above), but can barely hide his condescension for his rivals. Most impressive: Maintaining a plastic smile while being called out.

The “Everyone’s favorite fellow candidate” award goes to: New Gingrich. The former speaker of the house seems unwilling to attack the other Republicans running for president, but gleefully tears into the Obama administration, the Democrats, and the media when given a hint of a chance. Last night’s highlight: If at all possible, he’d like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank thrown in jail.

The “I’m really running for 2016, so I’m going to look smart and crack one-liners” award goes to: Jon Huntsman. After joking that he thought Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan was “the price of a pizza,” the former Utah governor took a swipe at Perry’s attacks on Mormonism when asking Romney a question. “Since this discussion is all about economics, Governor Romney, I promise this won’t be about religion,” he said, before pausing for a beat. “Sorry about that, Rick.”

The “Foot in mouth followed by a decent argument” award goes to Rick Santorum. After declaring “I want to go to war with China,” he attacked Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: “How many people here are for a sales tax in New Hampshire? Raise your hand.” No one in the crowd seemed to raise their hand. “There you go, Herman. That’s how many votes you’ll get in New Hampshire.” Ouch.

The “Crowd favorite who has no shot in hell” award goes: to Ron Paul. While talking about his partially successful efforts to audit the Federal Reserve, the Texas congressman prompted laughter when he said, rather sadly: “I’ve been calling them up for 30 years, and they never tell me.”