By now pundits are writing that Mitt Romney won the debate (surprise, huh?) and that Santorum got hurt. John King, CNN moderator, has been attacked for not asking about gas prices, Fast and Furious, China and cuts in our nuclear warheads. Newt seemed to have a good night and Paul was, well Paul.
It’s always best to watch the debates yourself and draw your own conclusions. Here are a few of mine.
Actually, King did mention gas prices, but it morphed into a discussion of Iran. Santorum, Gingrich and Romney made sure everyone knows they support Israel. Paul played the scare card of the draft. In his scenario, war mongering neocons will have your son and daughter camou-ed up by January 20, 2013. As for any real policy, Paul punted and babbled. He gets the Chamberlain award.
The initial question of the night, however, had to do with the economy. Santorum rejected Romney’s use of the term “the 1%” saying the lingo gave credibility to a movement that really doesn’t exist. Paul called Santorum a fake, which was pretty disingenuous considering he’s a big earmarker.
King asked Romney what his self anointed “severe conservative” label meant. Romney spewed out examples of his philosophy in action as businessman and governor. Please, Mitt, enough about your Olympics gig! How many more times do we have to hear it? Slow down, too. Running things by that fast doesn’t make me believe you, just that you want to confuse us.
John King took his jabs all through the evening. His deadpan delivery carries with it indictments. He, too, hurries them through towards the question, but he’s gotten his bias out. For instance, he said “there’s a lot of anger in the base of the party about some of the things that have happened in the past and the Tea Party especially: earmarks, pork barrel spending – it’s a tiny slice of the budget, we all know that, but if you talk to a Tea Party activist they think an example (that’s what it sounded like) is the gateway to corruption.” Slow down, Hoss! Take a refresher course at the Ernest Hemingway school of journalism, would you. He went on to direct it to Rick Santorum, having gotten his dig at unappreciative, unintelligent Tea Partiers.
It was a gotcha for Santorum who went on to talk about good and bad earmarks. Mitt attacked, but the way he said requests for federal money should be made is the way they are made. He was confused. Romney has an irritating habit of interrupting people, too. Wonder how Ann and the kids like it.
The inevitable birth control question came up, even though King tried to act like it was minor and they’d move on. He got booed for it, but it didn’t move on. Newt smacked him down over it in a satisfying way. Santorum was good when he discussed how the issue is more than just birth control, but cultural and something the federal government can’t legislate away. He spoke of the problem of unwed mothers, often young and impoverished and how it hurts society. The others tried to act as if Santorum supports Planned Parenthood. But does anyone think a father of eight supports it?
It was a neat trick of Romney to try and blame Santorum for Obamacare. Whaaatt? Santorum wasn’t even in the Senate at that time. Romney tried to say if he hadn’t endorsed Arlen Specter, it wouldn’t have happened and then to use Santorum’s endorsement of him in 2008 post Romneycare, as an indicator of his pushing Obamacare. It was all very twisted and not effective.
King served up another gotcha to Santorum on women in the military. Santorum had said earlier that it could be fraught with problems. He should have turned on King and told him that surely there are more pressing problems to address in a two hour debate than this.
They then went on to discuss the No Child Left Behind act, another minefield for Santorum. Santorum blundered when he said he’d been a team player in President Bush’s early legislation. It probably didn’t go over well.
There was a dagger for Newt in it, too, when he reminded the audience of his junkets with Al Sharpton, touring the country to promote education. I’m sure he’d like to put that away in a lockbox.
The question to describe yourself in one word was a silly one. Maybe the best answer would have been “multifaceted.”
The wrap up came with a question about misconceptions about each. Santorum sounded whiny when he mentioned he had been outspent 4 or 5 to one and was still standing. Everyone blathered on about electability before the debate came to its end.
Did it change anyone’s mind? Guess we’ll find out next week.