Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fox WSJ SC GOP Debate – Romney Flops, Gingrich Standing O! – Winners In Order: Gingrich, Perry, Weak: Santorum, Romney, Paul – Analysis, Full Video

Gingrich surrounded after 1-16-2012 SC GOP Debate - image: daylife.com

Mitt Romney, the heir apparent to the GOP “throne”, flopped last evening at the South Carolina GOP Debate hosted by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the South Carolina Republican Party – assailed on all sides, most particularly by Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, Romney had one of his worst debate performances since he began running for President in 2006. Perhaps the most painful segment to watch was his non-answer to releasing his tax returns, which was first posed by Rick Santorum, then by a WSJ moderator – Romney dodged the question until finally settling on the “historical date of April” to release his tax returns. There was a deafening silence from the crowded room, which had up to that point, been enthusiastic on most Romney Q&A’s, of which there were many due to the his status as “front-runner”.

Santorum’s performance was solid, but a repeat of the previous debates, his attacks on Romney and the balance of the candidates pointed, but chock full of the usual statistics. Rick Perry, on the other hand, proved formidable, and had perhaps the best “laugh line” of the entire debate in referring to Romney’s over-long answers and Fox News’ decision not to have either a bell and or other time reminder, noted (paraphrasing) “They should bring out a gong”. Perry also delighted South Carolina Governor Haley, who had endorsed Romney earlier, by pointing out the struggle she was having with the Justice Department over a host of issues, including the labor board’s push to pull Boeing from building in South Carolina due to their “right to work” laws.

Ron Paul was – Ron Paul – he is solid in his position on economics, yet appears somewhat weak when attempting to voice his anti-war stance versus his defense stance. Paul clearly is an isolationist, yet looks at the fine points of between spending on the nation’s defense, and what he considers wasteful spending – his prime example was spending billions on an embassy in Iraq instead of spending that money to build bases at home – citing the massive base closures during the 1990’s and beyond. Paul is on the right track, but tends to get flustered, which was most undoubtedly frustration with the inability of the moderator to understand his point of view. Online polls after the debate, including one on the pro-Romney Drudge Report shows Paul the clear winner of the debate with 57,000 plus votes, followed by Gingrich, Romney, Santorum then Perry. The problem with any online polls is the “American Idol” factor, where there can be multiple votes for a single candidate, either by poll design or clearing one’s cache to “trick” the poll and vote multiple times. Paul has a huge internet presence, and therefore is expected to win every poll online – Paul is currently, according to the Real Clear Politics running third, behind Gingrich and Romney in Carolina’s.

Newt Gingrich simply stole the show, and proved, despite the near shut-out by Fox News on Q & A’s compared to the other candidates, why he is the best man in the debate forum, hands down. Gingrich began with a so-so attempt to address the issues of the Romney/Gingrich PAC battle, and specifically Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a sore point for Beltway Romney fans – after this point, Gingrich hit his stride, and knocked the debate out of the ballpark, drawing what was characterized as the first standing ovation at a political debate. This occurred when Fox News moderator, Juan Williams accused Gingrich of being racists over suggesting that students work while in school. Gingrich laid it out in no uncertain terms that the point he was making was not racists, but addresses poverty overall, and the fact that instilling a work ethic, puts pride into a community. He noted that although certain facts make some people uncomfortable, such as the highest number of individuals in this country on food stamps under this administration, it is – a fact. Gingrich suggestion that our youth be given jobs, is perhaps best supported by several video’s, including one dedicated to the”EBT” card - here on You Tube”. An EBT card is the politically correct version of food stamps – lest someone be embarrassed by the older paper version, credit cards are distributed that can be used at a variety of locations, not all of which include “food”. There is no doubt that hunger and poverty affect a broad spectrum of American’s today, regardless of race, and that the heavy reliance on government versus self was the point Gingrich made. It is a question of background and age, and political ideology that muddies the water on Gingrich’s excellent point.

On a personal note, this blogger picked beans at a farm for 25 cents a day back in the early 1960’s, and has found ways to make a living ever since. The fact that work is a good experience was then instilled in offspring, who, instead of taking an allowance, found a job, in a weak economy, working in food service, and is proud of the work and pay received. It is the understanding that when one works, one receives money, and one is better able to support themselves, and buy that new Iphone, pair of sneakers, what-have-you. This is what is lacking across the spectrum, a work ethic instilled in our youth, and it crosses, racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines. There is also the factor based on a dependence on government and the “ownership” of an individual by a political party, based upon fulfillment of their needs, rather than a literal hand up. Telling the truth and presenting solutions to poverty, regardless of race, is what drives those who would opposed Gingrich politically over the ledge.

Gingrich followed with a series of quick witted, yet well thought out thorough answers on everything from No Child Left Behind, to issues of national security, and extension of unemployment benefits. The later drawing again a huge surge of applause, given the former Speakers suggestion that those who are on 99 week unemployment benefits, in a scenario where a training program in return for benefits were in place, would have earned an Associate’s Degree.

Overall, after watching this debate, it is clear why Mitt Romney, between his Super PAC’s (which did damage to competitors in 2008 as well), and his weak showing in debates (again revisit 2008), is not the clear front-runner at this point in the primary cycle. In fact, there are choices in this group of five candidates, that allows for one or more to break out and pass Romney, and the obvious import of the South Carolina primary, given the shortened primary calendar, will make that clear. Romney to date has won the Iowa Caucus by 8 votes (the recount is due out today, the 17th, so that is still not a clear win, if it ever was, more of a tie). He won New Hampshire, period - there are 48 more states to weigh in, but that said, the nation and the GOP should have a clear idea of who the frontrunner(s) are once past Super Tuesday on March 6th. It is at that point where realistic projections can be made. At this point, all the hype regarding Mitt Romney may have hurt him more than helped him – and, the media, the beltway and those who would see a true moderate as the nominee, should have not raised expectations too high and too soon - expectations that clearly cannot be met nor explained away.

Gingrich’s overall demeanor and debate performance was stellar, commanding, even toned and perhaps the best performance to date. Perry as well, given the time allotted, gave the performance of his campaign to date. Although this blog makes no secret of the fact that Gingrich is the preferred candidate, based on extensive research of his record, both inside the legislature , and out, it is policy to give a devil his due. Had Romney won that debate, then Romany would have been given credit. It is important to note that polls at this early stage, showing Romney leading the President, and then Romany being touted as the best for the job, are disingenuous at best. Polls are subject to change given time and circumstances. It is not secret that the 2008 election was won by Obama in the debate arena, if that is the case, then why would the party push an “heir apparent” regardless of talent, when there is an individual who clearly would rule in that arena, and that individual is one Newt Gingrich. He owns the debate forum, despite the distortions of his remarks this early in the game. One post debate Fox commentator noted that people would (paraphrase) “pay to see Gingrich debate Obama”, understanding the outcome. It therefore, defies logic, to this mind, to push a frontrunner that is weaker in the debate arena, as well as in other areas as proved by last evening’s answers by Romney).

The next debate is Thursday night, CNN is the network, and the time is 8PM Eastern: for more information refer to CNN pressroom.blogs

Gingrich Standing Ovation

Full Video Fox News Debate

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