I have the flu so before the debates started I said a little prayer that the candidates wouldn’t make me sicker.  Thankfully, my prayers were answered because unlike the last sniping debate, this one went smoothly and respectfully—but it’s certainly not because of the liberal CNBC commentators, who were constantly trying to instigate arguments.

Of course it’s been a strange, stressful week for Herman Cain.  I do find it interesting that the mainstream folks have been so venomous toward Cain while they’re giving Romney—who’s been in the lead all along—a free pass.  Even throughout the debates, the commentators often talked of how Romney was “in agreement” with Obama and/or Democrats.  Strange, no?

But I digress.

Cast of characters tonight:  Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and John Huntsman.

(Huntsman’s still in this???  Who knew…)

Another random thought–who’s the angry bald guy commentator?  That guy needs a serious chill pill!  From here forth—and because I can’t remember their names–the three commentators are Calm Guy (CG), Uptight Liberal Woman (ULW) and Angry Bald Guy (ABG).

Calm Guy asked Romney about the fact that he’s been branded a flip-flopper on the issues, adding, “It’s an issue of character; not personal, but political.”

Romney replied, “I think it’s outrageous the Obama campaign continues to push this idea when you have in the Obama administration the most political presidency we’ve seen in modern history.  They’re actually deciding when to pull out of Afghanistan based on politics…If I’m president of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith and to our country and I will never apologize for the United States of America.”  (applause)

Newt Gingrich was asked “Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has called unemployment in this country a national crisis…why is tax reform the path to job creation?”

Gingrich—in his perfectly Gingrich-y way—said, “Well first of all, I think Ben Bernanke’s a large part of the problem and he ought to be fired as rapidly as possible.  I think the Federal Reserve ought to be audited and we should have all the decision documents for 2008, 9 and 10 so we can understand who he bailed out, why he bailed them out, who he did not bail out and why he did not bail them out. I’m glad Ben Bernanke recognizes some of the wreckage some of his policies have led to.”

“I would say that all of us on this stage represent a dramatically greater likelihood of getting to a paycheck and leaving behind food stamps than does Barack Obama,” Gingrich added, to his usual applause.

In the middle of questioning about taxes, the debate made a major u-turn and the Herman Cain stuff reared its ugly head by the Uptight Liberal Woman.

“Mr. Cain, the American people want jobs but they also want leadership.  They want character in a president…”

(PERSONAL NOTE:  When ULW said this, she turned her head slightly and looked at him from the corners of her eyes in a very accusatory way which I found personally offending—even coming from liberal CNBC…)

ULW continued, in a stern, judging kind of way, “In recent days, we have learned that 4 different women have accused you of inappropriate behavior.  Here we’re focusing on character and on judgment…”

(The audience started BOOING!  Yay audience!)

“You’ve been a CEO; you know that chair holders are reluctant to hire a CEO where there are character issues.  Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?”

(PERSONAL NOTE:   Ms. Uptight Liberal Woman, remember when Bill Clinton was campaigning, with women coming out of the woodwork without the benefit of Gloria Allred?  You folks at CNBC didn’t seem to think “character” mattered in the least back then!  Okay, back to the debate…) 

Herman Cain profoundly said, “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations—that’s what it’s about.”  (Wild applause.)

He continued, “I value my character and my integrity more than anything else and for every one person that comes forward with a false accusation, there are thousands who would say none of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain.  You’re right—this country’s looking for leadership and this is why a lot of people, despite what has happened over the last 9 days, are still very enthusiastic behind my candidacy.  Over the last 9 days, voters are voting with their dollars and they are saying they don’t care about the character assassination, they care about leadership and getting this economy growing and all of the other problems we face.”  (applause)

Of course that wasn’t enough.  ULW asked Romney if, as a CEO, he would have kept Cain onboard in his company.  Again, the awesome audience booed.

“Look, Herman Cain is the person to respond to these questions; he just did, the people in this room and across country can make their own assessment—I’m not going to do it,” Romney answered to applause.

“Governor Huntsman, let me switch back to the economy,” the Calm Guy conceded, quickly changing the subject.

(Take THAT, Alinsky liberals, for trying to get us to play your game!) 

Jon Huntsman was asked if he believed there was something wrong with the structure of our economy relating to income inequality.

Huntsman gave a nice response directed at the Occupy folks:  “Let me just say that I want to be the president of the 99%; I also want to be the president of the 1%.  This nation is divided, and it’s painful and it is unnatural for the most optimistic, blue sky people the world has ever known.”

The Angry Bald Guy quoted Milton Freidman and asked Newt if corporations can be profitable and also create jobs.

 (PERSONAL NOTE:  Lately every time Newt Gingrich speaks, it’s like a drink of cool water on a hot day.  I really like Newt Gingrich, and this next statement is part of the reason why.)

“Obviously corporations can and should do both and what is amazing to me is the inability of much of our academic world, much of our news media and most of the people on Occupy Wall Street to have a clue about history.”  (applause)  “In this town, Henry Ford started as an Edison Electric supervisor who went home at night and built his first car in the garage.  Now was he the 99% or the 1%?  Bill Gates drops out of college to found Microsoft.  Is he in the 1% or the 99%?  Historically, this is the richest country in the history of the world because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs and it’s sad that the news media doesn’t report accurately how the economy works.”  (Wild applause!)

OF COURSE, the Uptight Liberal Woman burst in and said, “Excuse me, excuse me, Mr. Speaker, what is the news media reporting inaccurately about the economy?”

(PERSONAL NOTE:  Uh-oh, ULW, you’re gonna get it now!  This is awesome—SO happy she asked Gingrich this question!)

“What?” Gingrich responded, incredulously.  (Wild applause again.  THIS. IS. AWESOME!)

She repeated her question, in her very snippy, liberal-like way:  “What is the media reporting inaccurately about the media?”

“If you want to do this disguised as a question, that’s terrific.  I have yet to hear a single reporter ask a single Occupy Wall Street person a single rational question about the economy that would lead them to say, for example, ‘Who’s going to pay for the park you’re occupying if there are no businesses making a profit?’”  (APPLAUSE—including me)

The Angry Bald Guy saved his colleagues by again diverting attention back to the debate.  (Score yet another one for the Gingrich-er!)

Herman Cain was asked how his 9-9-9 plan wouldn’t turn into a “19-19-19 plan” if the federal government needed more money.

“Tax codes do not raise taxes, politicians do!” Cain responded to applause.

Each of the commentators tried to imply that the GOP doesn’t care about the housing market.  The one response that seemed to shut them up came from Romney.

“What would you have the government do instead?  Have the federal government go out and buy all the homes in America?  That’s not going to happen in this country.  Markets work.  When you have government play a heavy hand, markets blow up and people get hurt and the reason we have the housing crisis we have, the federal government played too heavy a role in our market.  The federal government came in with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, told banks they had to give loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back,” Romney said, interrupted by applause.  “And so our friends in Washington today say, ‘oh, if we’ve got a problem with housing let’s let government play a bigger role.’  That’s the wrong way to go.  Let markets work, help people get back to work, let them buy homes, you’ll see home prices come back up if we allow this market to work.”  (Applause)

Thankfully, Rep. Bachmann pointed out the fact that in the same weeks that Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac are asking for multi-billion dollar bailouts (again) but that they recently gave bonuses of almost $13 million to 10 top executives.  “This is the epicenter of crony capitalism,” Bachmann said, “for these geniuses to give 10 of their top executives bonuses…and then have the guts to come to the American people and say ‘give us another $13 billion to bail us out just for the quarter’?  That’s lunacy—we need to put them back into bankruptcy and put them out of business!”  (applause)  “They’re destroying the housing world.”

Then Calm Guy said to Speaker Gingrich, “Your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006.  What did you do for that money?”

“I offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do,” Gingrich answered, to laughter and applause.

The candidates were asked what they would replace with Obamacare and Herman Cain repeated what he said in the previous debate about HR-3000.

“We didn’t hear about it in the previous congress because Princess Nancy sent it to committee and it stayed there—it never came out,” Cain said to laughter and applause.  “HR-3000 allows the decisions to be with the doctors and the patients, not with the bureaucrats in Washington DC.”

One very strange thing happened when Governor Perry forgot one of the three agencies of government he wanted to abolish if elected president.  He literally forgot it—had to stop, tried to remember and the other candidates were even suggesting names to help him out.  Very strange.   (Maybe he has the flu, too?)

And suddenly, the Angry Bald Guy went ballistic.  He started out somewhat calmly talking Herman Cain about “restoring trust and faith in our markets,” but then ABG started building and building to a crazy, spittle-spewing frenzy.

“When the economy was going great, sir, there was no trust!” ABG yelled, practically bouncing out of his seat.  “When the economy was going great people were getting ripped off and there was insider trading!  When the economy was going great people were getting hurt in the stock market!  Forget the economy, talk about the way the market’s regulated!”

Cain, in his soothing, fatherly manner, raised his hand to try to calm him down saying, “Jim, I feel your pain…” but the ABG interrupted him—practically yelling, “How about the 90 million people who’ve got money in the market failure?”  (That guy REALLY needs a valium.  Just saying.)

“Jim, you’ve gotta provide certainty in this environment so businesses will grow.  They have been in a mode of survive; they need to be in the mode of grow.  That’s what we have to do first.  And I agree with some of the others who’ve said we’ve got to repeal Dodd-Frank.  That’s three big things wrong with Dodd-Frank…Number one, it doesn’t provide oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…the two other biggest problems with Dodd-Frank, Dodd and Frank!”  (laughter and applause)

Overall, I believe each of the candidates were epic tonight and they handled the creepy liberal commentators with tact and dignity.

In my own flu-like opinion, I believe Newt Gingrich won this debate by a landslide.  He was absolutely on FIRE tonight.  And for the first time ever—and I’m shocked I’m writing this—Mitt Romney came in second.  He made sense and was clear and precise in all his answers.  Herman Cain was just behind Romney; he handled the silly “inappropriate behavior-gate” garbage MUCH better than I would have.

Now I’ve going to re-block CNBC from my channel lineup, take some Nyquil and go to bed.