GOP debates damage the chances of the Republican Party to beat Obama

I'm calling it now: Barack Obama will be re-elected president in 2012. This isn't just wishful thinking. After watching the most recent Republican Party debate on Oct. 18, I simply can't see anyone the GOP can offer up beating Obama in a general election. While the candidates attempted to convince voters why they're the right person to challenge Obama, all any of them seemed to do was prove why they're not capable of leading the nation.

Seven candidates participated in last Tuesday's debate on CNN mediated by Anderson Cooper. I was especially interested in the debate because it was the first since former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain jumped ahead in the polls with his "9-9-9" plan. Unfortunately for Cain, he's running for president and not selling pizzas – and his competitors wasted no time pointing that out.

It became apparent very quickly that Cain's plan had absolutely no substance. Responding to critical remarks from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Cain could only respond with comments in the vein of "you don't understand the plan." What it looked like, however, was that Cain didn't understand his own plan or even how the American tax system works. Seemingly stupefied by the thought of both federal and state sales tax, Cain eventually succumbed to a mind-numbing rant about mixing apples and oranges; Cain was dead in the water less than 30 minutes into the debate.

I was also interested in how Perry would use the debate to make up some ground he lost after his meteoric rise to the top of the field. He's lost all the momentum he had during the month of September and I was expecting a bounce back for Perry, but all he could do was stoop to petty insults aimed toward Romney.

  Then there are the candidates who I can't believe are still running. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum were afterthoughts for the majority of the debate. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann continues to embarrass herself: implying Libya is not in Africa, saying Obama "put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa," and of course the oh-so-beautifully ironic statement "as president of the United States, we will be respected again in the world." Somehow, I doubt that.

Congressman Ron Paul is an interesting candidate. For a while now, I've been trying to figure out why a man who is so adamantly anti-government is running for president. For Paul, every government program and department is one that should be cut. This means he is right about one thing: national defense. Sensibly, he calls for the scaling back of defense spending and meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. Unfortunately, this doesn't outweigh the fact that he wants to cut the Department of Education.

That leaves Mitt Romney. At this point, I'm 90 percent sure he's going to win the nomination and be Obama's challenger in the general election. He gave the strongest performance during the debate, weathering attacks from all his competitors with integrity and was the only one who seemed to have any grip on what it would take to head the national government. With the recent endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Romney figures to appeal to the majority of republican voters, and maybe even a few independents.

It's a moot point, though. I just don't believe Romney can go toe-to-toe with Obama in a general election. Say what you will about his politics but it's undeniable that Obama is an eloquent speaker and a formidable debater. From what I saw last Tuesday, none of the republican candidates have a chance in a national debate.