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Posts For: January 7, 2012

Romney’s the Saturday Night Winner

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.

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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.

Other than a last-minute riposte to Jon Huntsman for his defense of China, Romney avoided attacking the other candidates. Though many criticized President Obama, he was the only one whose real focus was on November.

Other than his embarrassing opening slam at Romney in which he approvingly quoted a New York Times hit piece, Gingrich was back to being the man who rebuilt his candidacy via the debates. But the break since the last one in mid-December was fatal to his hopes. Though he scored consistently, his obvious deference to Santorum showed he’s probably lost hope of winning the prize himself.

Interestingly, the only candidate to attack Santorum was the man who is quickly being displaced by him in the first tier: Ron Paul. Santorum ably turned aside Paul’s comments. But the contest between them looked very much like the battle for the runner-up position. While the long slog to the nomination is far from over, the Saturday night debate made it look as if Romney is about to lap the field.

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Live Blog: The GOP Debate

The debate ends: Winners: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich. Losers: Paul, Huntsman, Perry.

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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.

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Closing with yet another stupid question. Who cares what they’d be doing if they weren’t here.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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The debate ends: Winners: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich. Losers: Paul, Huntsman, Perry.

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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.

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Closing with yet another stupid question. Who cares what they’d be doing if they weren’t here.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Romney tries to make the big picture argument for his American century and exceptionalism. Unlike his competitors he’s thinking about November.

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Perry makes a pitch for right-to-work in New Hampshire. Tepid applause even if most Republicans agree.

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Huntsman ponders how much better off we would have been if there had been a different president elected in 2008. Guess that also means he wouldn’t have been ambassador to China.

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Gingrich started off slamming Romney. That flopped but since then he’s sounded strong.

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The next question is about infrastructure. Does anybody remember that the economy is supposed to be the main issue this year?

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After one hour: Romney isn’t being attacked as much as in previous debates. It’s almost as if they’ve conceded he’s going to win.

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Santorum is showing again why foreign policy is his strong point. Good response to Ron Paul about Iran.

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Gingrich’s arguments about the importance of changing the regime in Iran and energy independence that would mean no US president would have to bow to a Saudi king are on target. Those weeks without debates really hurt him.

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Perry is right to criticize Obama on Iraq. But promising to send troops back is not exactly a winner of an issue.

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The love fest between Gingrich and Santorum is pretty amazing. They’re almost a tag team.

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Gingrich changes the topic from Afghanistan to Iran and Egypt. Rightly says it’s a regional problem.

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Huntsman makes the case for bugging out of Afghanistan. But then says he wants to keep 10,000 there to fight terrorists.

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Paul preens when asked about a 3rd party run. Wants a candidate who’s as obsessed with the Federal Reserve and isolationism as him.

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Gingrich turns the gay question around on moderators. Should the Catholic Church be discriminated against because of its principles. Good applause line. And he’s right.

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Romney gets the gay couple in a living room question: Says long-term committed relationships are good but they don’t have to be called marriage. Manages to sound nice but to maintain opposition to gay marriages.

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Santorum says marriage is a federal issue. Says adoption by gay couples is a state matter.

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Huntsman speaks up for civil unions and equal rights for gay couples. That won’t hurt him in an open primary.

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Santorum draws a distinction between Griswold and Roe v. Wade and 4th amendment. Asking the question this way enables him to come off as reasonable rather than a hard-core right-to-lifer.

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A state right to ban contraception? Romney says the question is silly since no state would ever do it. Right. But then says there is no federal right to privacy as in the Griswold v. CT and Roe v. Wade decisions.

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At the first break, there’s no question that Romney is managing to stay above the fray and thereby winning. Santorum looks strong too. Ron Paul pathetic.

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Ron Paul keeps saying he “didn’t write” the racist newsletters that went out with his name on it. Then tries to play the liberal on race relations. No credibility.

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Gingrich attacked as a “chickenhawk” by Paul. Appealing to his vet supporters as the anti-war vet. It’s not fair but there’s no defense against it.

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Romney is on cruise control: the only one not attacking the other candidate. But he’s wrong about Ron Paul being better than Obama. Courtesy to an extremist shows he’s got his eyes firmly on November.

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Romney on Huntsman’s qualifications: He’d be a lot better than Obama. Damned by faint praise. Then makes a strong argument about the president’s failures on Iran.

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Perry’s entrance into the debate is a bit silly, claiming that he’s an outsider as against insiders Paul and Santorum. Stephanopolous rightly calls him on it. And Perry claiming again that he was “commander in chief” of the Texas National Guard is absurd.

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Santorum’s defense of his post-Senate career is effective and Paul is a good foil for him. A good moment for Santorum.

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Santorum looks relaxed and confident as Ron Paul tries to smear him as corrupt with what he calls George Soros-funded groups attacking him. Says he’s a conservative but not a libertarian. Reminds Paul about his own earmarks.

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Gingrich opens up with an assault on Romney for his Bain Investment record. Does he really think bashing Romney for being a capitalist pursuing free enterprise will hurt him among Republicans? Romney answers that his companies created 100,000 more jobs than were lost. Gingrich’s claim that he hadn’t seen the attack ad is disingenuous. And hypocritical considering his whining about ads attacking him.

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Santorum is asked to take a shot at Romney as a CEO rather than a leader. He obliges. And then goes straight to the question of Iran. Santorum clearly thinks his advantage is on foreign policy, not economics.

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Diane Sawyer opens the debate asking about the good news about unemployment. Mitt Romney’s answer: Obama doesn’t deserve the credit. It’s like the rooster taking credit for the dawn.

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The debate is about to begin. Let’s see what happens.

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Santorum’s Slippery Slope

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?

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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?

Independents and young conservatives are becoming more supportive of gay marriage (last year was the first that Gallup found that national support for it topped 50 percent). And while the “slippery slope” argument that Santorum often makes has valid points, it hasn’t seemed to be particularly convincing to these groups.

From a legal standpoint, it’s not a stretch to see how some of the arguments for gay marriage could also be used to argue for polygamy. But from a societal perspective, gay marriage is no longer primarily viewed as a deviant act akin to polygamy, bigamy, or incest. In fact, comparing it to these things actually appears to have hurt Santorum in the polls — a red flag that gay marriage opponents will likely find troubling.

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