I almost never watch debates, especially this early. But the five-man line up in Greenville, SC, last night, at a Fox News-sponsored event interested me.

I like Herman Cain and Rick Santorum, and would like to like Tim Pawlenty, while having positives and negatives that almost cancel each other out about Ron Paul. Then Pilgrim encouraged me to find out who Gary Johnson is, which probably made me tune in more than anything else.

All three conservatives acquitted themselves well. And the Libertarians failed with me where L’s always fail with me.

So this morning I checked the news blogs to read the Friday morning quarterbacking. There were the usual comments about the sparseness of the debate, with no marque names just second stringers, and how could Fox not understand what a big waste of time this is? As I said, all three conservatives gave good answers. Then my son called this morning to say that Tim Pawlenty looked like Dana Carvey doing his impersonation of Captain Kirk. “What’s with the hand gestures?” Yep, Tim needs to work on that.

But the game changer for me was the after-action tale of the tapes by pollster Frank Luntz of a group of South Carolina Republicans (I assume).  Among them Herman Cain won in a landslide. No, by acclamation. If you didn’t see it, watch here, then lay aside your own personal observations and consider only those of the members of this group.

I won’t analyze what they said, or compare that to my own observations. I will only say the obvious: Herman Cain connected with this crowd, in part, because these are the people he came to this debate to connect with. He was uninterested, OK, less interested, in what the bloggers and talking heads might say, and much more interested in what the people of South Carolina have to say about him.

As it stands right now, the South Carolina GOP primary is Herman Cain’s to lose.


Citizen With Bark On