My overall bottom line: As I tweeted last night, Newt did not land the desired, and anticipated, knock out punch. Rick Santorum did very well, particularly when he went after Romney on Romneycare, but I don’t think he beat Newt or Romney, as in being in a position to win the Florida primary.
Last night’s Romney was a new Romney. I guess it helps to hire a debate coach, even one who worked with John McCain.He was much more focused, much less defensive about his success and much more assertive. Prepared, sharp and to the point. Do you think he has ever in his life before last night told anyone to his face that a statement that person made is “repulsive?” Clearly Mr. O’Donnell is having an impact.
Bizarre, but not unwelcome, moment: When the opened the debate with National Anthem performed by the University of North Florida Chamber Singers. Wait, isn’t this CNN?
Most Unfortunate Moment:”We have many qualified, Hispanic leaders. Which of our Hispanic leaders would you consider to serve in your cabinet?” Is it really necessary for the GOP to engage in this sort of identity politics? Have they thoroughly abandoned the idea that they are a party of ideas, not interest groups?
Dumbest Question:”why would your wife make the best first lady?” Really Wolf? Did you ask this because you are laboring under the bizarre delusion that Michelle Obama is some sort of national hero?
Best Romney moments:
- The whole exchange in which he got Newt to admit that, despite his going after Mitt on his investments, he also owned mutual funds that invest in Fannie and Freddie
- “Speaker, you’ve indicated that somehow I don’t earn that money. I have earned the money that I have. I didn’t inherit it.
- I take risks. I make investments. Those investments lead to jobs being created in America.”
Worst Romney moments:
- When he had to admit, after saying he hadn’t seen the ad, that ad accusing Newt of calling Spanish “the language of the ghetto,” was in fact his ad.
- Runner up: “I’m proud of the taxes I pay.” Why should someone be proud of obeying the law?
Best Newt Moment: In response the question of why he was the best person to beat Obama. “And I believe, if we have a big election with truly historic big choices, that we can defeat Barack Obama by a huge margin. But it won’t be by running just as a Republican. It will be an American campaign open to every American who prefers a paycheck to food stamps, who prefers the Declaration of Independence to Saul Alinsky and who prefers a strong national security to trying to appease our enemies.” Do we think that any other candidate will educate the voters about the fact that this election is not a traditional Democrat v. Republican contest, but rather a choice between two warring visions of the future of our country?
Best Santorum moments:
- When criticized the Obama’s administration’s “abysmal” record regarding Central and South America, citing Honduras, and when talking about Cuba even using the “M” word, “Marxism”
- When he echoed Paul, suggesting that the back-and-forth about who earned what from Fannie and Freddie is a distracting waste of time
Best Paul moments:
- When he responded to the question about whether Romney and Newt should give back the money they made from Fannie and Freddie with “that subject really doesn’t interest me a whole lot,” and went on to talk about the Community Redevelopment Act.
- When he suggested that we should send some politicians to the moon
Debate transcript here. What say you?