Although pundits last night said Gingrich didn’t help himself in the debate and Romney did, they seemed about equal from my viewpoint. Neither one hit it out of the park. Santorum did, at times. Ron Paul had his charm, but he still looks like the one you’d X out when asked who doesn’t belong in this picture.
There is talk today that Wolf Blitzer, the CNN host, “blitzed” Newt, especially when it came to the Romney tax issue. He might have thrown Newt off his game a little, but he didn’t score. Blitzer followed John King in giving lengthy prologues to questions; when the moderator inserts himself like that it is off putting.
The scuffle between Newt and Mitt began right away. Blitzer asked Romney about an ad he’s running which has Gingrich saying Spanish is a ghetto language. Mitt denied it and Blitzer quoted the ad’s tag line “I’m Mitt Romney and I approve this message.” Ding.
Romney later accused Gingrich of promising everyone in each state a goody to get votes. That’s rich coming from Romney who someone described as a “bartender. He’ll give anyone whatever they want.”
When talk came to the home mortgage crisis, Paul gets credit for mentioning the Community Reinvestment Act that many consider the root of the problem.
I liked Newt’s idea about taking Social Security out of the budget. It should operate alone so as not to be held hostage to government financial battles.
The real and most important exchange came mid debate when they got on the topic of Obamacare. Santorum excelled. He hit Romney well on Romneycare, criticizing that there are 15 things the same in both it and Obamacare. He said that the “free ridership” Romney said was avoided in Massachusetts in actuality increased it five fold. Then Santorum emphasized that we cannot give the issue to Obama. Exactly.
Romney shocked me when he replied “it’s not worth getting angry about!” In that sentence he epitomized everything wrong with his candidacy. If there is any issue we all are angry about – and have a right to be angry about – it’s Obamacare. It gets to the heart of what’s wrong with the country today – constant government interference in our lives. And in this case, it’s a life and death issue.
That was the most important takeaway in the debate.
I was amused that when Ron Paul was asked about Hispanic interests he said, “The Hispanic community is especially attuned to the foreign policy of non intervention. Hispanics are more opposed to war than other communities.” That was a surprise, wasn’t it? You think of Mexican gangs and South American cartels and they do not seem averse to war.
Blitzer then went on to ask Paul what he would say if he were president and Fidel Castro called. “I’d ask him what he called about.” The doctor took the logical answer and smacked Blitzer down.
A woman in the audience asked the candidates’ views on Puerto Rican statehood. Strangely, Blitzer only asked Santorum who in essence said it was up to Puerto Ricans.
It got weird when Blitzer went on to ask why their wives would be the best First Lady. I didn’t know that was such a pressing issue. Ron Paul said because she had many children and was the author of the Ron Paul cookbook. That seemed a little demeaning, especially since he didn’t even give her name. Romney talked about his wife’s compassion after her MS and breast cancer. Newt went weird, too, saying that Callista wasn’t better than any of the other wives up there. If my husband said that, I’d say fine; anyone of them would have made just as good a wife as me? Take one. It wasn’t smart considering his previous wives.
Santorum said Karen was a nurse, got a law degree, had 7 children, lost one, wrote a book and has a special needs child. No one could top that.
The final question was why are you the one on stage most likely to beat Obama?
Ron Paul pointed to his civil liberties position and that he was not as bellicose as Obama.
Mitt said it’s because it’s a critical time and more or less everyone appreciates my greatness. He then appropriated Rick Perry’s position of being a Washington outsider for his own. Then he talked about the need for change, change especially in Washington. Now where have I heard that before, this time minus the hope?
Santorum pointed to his opposition to TARP, government health care and cap and trade. He said he was the only one who could win the industrial heartland and made that the centerpiece of his campaign. Santorum said he could win those critical states.
If I were a Floridian and not yet voted, the debate might have changed my mind. Santorum won the day.