Going into Saturday night’s debate in New Hampshire, Rick Santorum’s rise might have made him the focal point of the event. Although he had a good night, the real story was the failure of any of his rivals to lay a glove on frontrunner Mitt Romney. Though the evening began with a brutal attack on Romney from Newt Gingrich, it fell flat. From then on, Romney cruised, and the night ended with him looking more like the inevitable nominee than ever.
Santorum sounded strong and confident and he also had help from Newt Gingrich that made the two of them look like a wrestling tag team. Nothing that happened tonight will interfere with his momentum, and he may well do better than expected in New Hampshire and set himself up for a good night next week in South Carolina. But the failure of the GOP field to successfully attack Romney will only strengthen his position as the man who looks like the eventual winner.
The debate ends: Winners: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich. Losers: Paul, Huntsman, Perry.
Gingrich and Santorum lose points by not knowing that they’re now playing football, not basketball. And the college championship isn’t being played now, guys.
Closing with yet another stupid question. Who cares what they’d be doing if they weren’t here.
Huntsman back to making nice with Beijing. It’s enough to provoke Romney into his first attack of the night when he reminds viewers that Huntsman was working for Obama while others were working to elect Republicans. Huntsman responds by using a Chinese phrase. Does he really think he’s gaining with this exchange?
Santorum denounces use of the term “middle class.” Says we are a country with middle income citizens and we shouldn’t use class to label people. Good moment for Santorum.
Gingrich wryly observes that Obama’s effort to create a European-style socialist economy is sincere. Good line. Then goes back to attacking Romney as a tepid alternative to Obama.
Rick Santorum has suddenly slipped back down to fourth place in New Hampshire, after comments he made about gay marriage leading to polygamy, according to a Suffolk University poll. The pollster cites Santorum’s drop in support among independents and young voters as the reason for his backslide:
Romney leads with 39%, followed by Ron Paul at 17%, Newt Gingrich at 10%, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman tied at 9%, and Rick Perry at 1%.
Key finding: “Santorum came under scrutiny at a campaign stop in Concord, N.H. earlier this week when he compared gay marriage to polygamy and admitted he did not know his medical marijuana laws very well. He was jeered for those answers by a predominately student audience. Overnight, his support dropped from 6 percent to 3 percent among undeclared (Independents) and also dropped from 9 percent to 2 percent among voters ages 18-34 years.”
First, we don’t know for sure whether the abrupt drop in support was based on Santorum’s gay marriage comments, but as the Suffolk poll points out, the timing seems to correspond with the polling. New Hampshire primary voters are expected to be more apathetic on social issues (outside of gun control) than Iowa caucus-goers. But if vocal opposition to gay marriage can now actually hurt Republican candidates with New Hampshire primary voters, then what does that say about the future of this issue?