January 27, 2012

onceupon The final GOP debate before the Florida primary was as entertaining and combative as was expected, with lots of fireworks and sharp contrasts being painted by each candidate against the others. At the outset it looked like it was going to be a tiring tit-for-tat between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but that ended pretty quickly after Rick Santorum (displaying a far more combative and colorful persona than he has to date) brought everyone back to earth and refused to let moderator Wolf Blitzer play willing antagonist. While the debate was far better than Monday night’s snoozefest – primarily because the audience’s questions were excellent, putting old Wolf to shame – there’s just no point in expecting any debate hosted by the main TV networks or cable channels to be anything than “gotcha” questions asked for the purposes of a cheap sound bite.

Still, any good gundown has winners and losers, and there were some tonight. Given the theme of this post, let’s rate them with bullets:

1. Mitt Romney (4 bullets). Not because he had a better debate than all the others (that goes to Rick Santorum, for which I’ll explain below), but because Santorum did so well compared to Newt Gingrich. If the sense was that Newt hit his ceiling after winning the South Carolina, partly because of the Romney’s attacks at the Monday debate, partly because Newt once again drifted off message and back into dream-weaving, Romney’s performance was enough to keep that going. Last night showed a more forceful Romney while displaying the same annoying weaknesses that Republicans and conservatives tear their hair out over: he got caught not knowing one of his ads criticized Gingrich out of context, and he got absolutely pistol-whipped by Santorum on RomneyCare. Still, he had good answers on his private sector experience, and he showed a more human side to him on the (stupid) Blitzer question on how his wife would make a good First Lady. His answer on why he was the most qualified to beat Barack Obama was solid, if not totally convincing. Because Newt didn’t win, Romney wins on points.

2. Rick Santorum (3 bullets). Santorum was much more animated, more substantial, and thus better able to separate himself from Gingrich and Romney last night than he had been able to do previously. Most will think he came out ahead in terms of style and substance, but one can’t help feel that this is all too little, too late for him. Unless GOP voters suddenly (and overwhelmingly) decide that both Romney and Gingrich are so flawed as candidates they can’t trust or take a chance on either of them, I don’t see Santorum as a major player in the primaries going forward. Lacking the money and the organization, a good debate alone is just not going to propel him anywhere at this juncture.

3. Ron Paul (2 bullets). Same Ron Paul. If you love him, nothing he can do will change your mind. To me he looked more pale and tired than usual. Got in his usual effective one-liners and quips that endear him to his following, but he’s not going to win the nomination.

4. Newt Gingrich (1 bullet). Newt needed a big performance tonight and came up short. Started off going negative on Romney before turning on Wolf Blitzer with another blame-the-moderator response that seemed forced and awkward (ultimately leading to a Romney counterpunch that left Newt ducking for cover), then spent the rest of the debate again emphasizing his Washington experiences in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. When Newt concentrates on substance and problem-solving, he’s the best up there, but lately this continous walk through the Reagan and Clinton administrations just makes him seem like a well-connected Washington insider living out past gun battles. I’ve counted out Newt before, so I’m hesitant to do it again, but his star seems to be fading, and fast.

So there you have it. Thankfully, there are no more debates for a month! My prediction is that Romney wins Florida by 7-8 points, which will send conservatives into a panic. In the unlikely event Newt arises again, it will only be because of a GOP repudiation of Mitt Romney and the thought of nominating yet another weak-kneed, spineless moderate as the nominee.

Make no mistake about it: the fear and trembling in conservative quarters is palpable and could turn into full-blown panic if Romney wins Florida. Santorum’s campaign is on fumes, and while Paul will continue to rack up enough delegates to make him a player at the August convention, no one seriously considers him a viable nominee. There’s a huge schism forming in the Republican Party – a lot of conservatives (count me among them) very worried about Romney in a head-to-head match against Barack Obama, and it’s not out of the question that someone like Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (who gave a boffo GOP response to Obama’s State Of The Union address the other night) could be prodded to enter late with the goal of gathering momentum into the convention and being a brokered choice everyone could get behind. I’d love to see that happen…

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:30 | Comments (4)
4 Comments »
  1. I wasn’t as impressed as you were with Santorum last night. He seemed more desperate than angry (Mitt’s words) all night long. From throwing this “fact” or that “fact” out in any hope to make something stick, his ” Over here – look at me!” demeanor kinda turned me off.

    Mitt finally got in an answer on Romneycare that I liked. When he told everyone what the vote was for passage he finally exposed a talking point (that he didn’t follow-up on, however) that I believe he should use in addition to his others. When you are in the bluest of blue states and you have a plan that passes 220-2 (or whatever crazy number it was), you have a guaranteed veto override in place. All he could do (and did) was make it better than originally proposed by limiting what it would do, an he’s articulated those points before.

    And frankly, if Beaver Cleaver (Rick Santorum) has medical savings accounts as his only contribution to health care reform in his resume, that isn’t going to help him in an electorate that cannot afford to redirect any dollars away from keeping their heads above water in this economy.

    Finally, Mitt was all over Gingrich like white on rice all night long. He had answers for all of Newt’s charges since South Carolina, was no longer apologetic (or silent) on being wealthy, and really zinged the Pillsbury Doughboy when he got Newt to once again bring up Mitt’s blind investments in Fannie and Freddie (through mutual funds, not direct investment). That “Have you looked at you OWN investments? line had Gingrich looking like “Oh crap, what does he have on me now?” look. And Newt didn’t have a good answer, which was largely drowned out by crowd noise anyway. Newt’s good at slash and burn debate techniques, but Mitt showed the benefits of a deft touch using the “death by a thousand cuts” strategy.

    Comment by Dave Richard — January 27, 2012 @ 8:57 am


  2. Thanks, bro. Next debate I’m going to have you submit a guest review. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — January 27, 2012 @ 2:21 pm


  3. Doug:

    I watched that debate and wow was it entertaining. I agree with your summary.
    1. Newt & Mitt were going at it again.
    2. Rick Santorum is sticking to the issues
    and seems like the only candidate you
    could take seriously.
    3. Ron Paul had a good response to the space
    program. He thought it would be a good idea
    to send some politicians to the moon.

    Cubby.

    Comment by Ron "Cubby" Myerow — January 27, 2012 @ 5:57 pm


  4. That was a good line, Cub. It got me laughing!

    Comment by The Great Whire Shank — January 27, 2012 @ 11:10 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment


goodboys.jpg


Search The Site



Recent Items

Categories

Archives
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006


Blogroll

Syndication

4 Goodboys Only

Site Info