Newt Did Very Well in Debate — Again

Sunday, 11 Dec 2011 06:50 AM

By John LeBoutillier

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This is a quick — almost instant — analysis of the ABC-sponsored GOP presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, written just minutes after the debate concluded Saturday night.

Here are some thoughts on one of the last debates before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses:

Diane Sawyer is a disaster to look at and listen to as a debate moderator. She speaks in some sing-song voice, tilts her head, gyrates around . . . she is a total disaster.

Her colleague, George Stephanoupoulos, was a Clinton campaign flack and hack — and has no credibility to be asking Republicans questions about public policy.

No wonder ABC has become irrelevant in the news business.

OK, to the actual debate:
  • For the first 45 minutes, believe it or not, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann had the best answers. Her “Newt Romney” refrain was clever, funny, intriguing — and pointed out how similar these two Rockefeller Republican flip-floppers really are on a range of issues.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled a “Pawlenty” when he was asked to state the main differences between him and Gingrich. His answer? Four things — the first being the creation of a moon colony — and another being a difference in capital gains tax cuts thresholds. Are you kidding me? This was the moment for Romney to tell conservative primary voters why he is their man — and what is wrong with Newt. And the first thing he mentions is a moon colony?
  • The second hour saw former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defend his Palestinian statement on the Jewish channel. He did well on this, as he did on defending his record of earning a ton of money as a private citizen. Romney refused to go after Newt on this — yet his surrogates are doing it out on the stump. Why doesn’t Mitt do it himself?
  • The media will make a big deal out of Romney’s attempt to wager $10,000 with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The $10,000 moment will reinforce the image of Romney as a rich guy who is out of touch with the caucus-goers.
  • There will be another Iowa debate at 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday on Fox — and Foxnews.com. It will be Romney’s last opportunity to take the race away from Newt. Will he seize it? Or will he pull another “Pawlenty,” named for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, when it was all teed up for him in the first debate in New Hampshire last spring, and he refused to go after Mitt Romney on healthcare.

My conclusions:
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Perry, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, as usual, got the shaft in allocation of air time. How is this fair? Shouldn’t all the candidates get the same amount of time?
  • Bachmann got more than usual — and this was by far her best performance of the campaign. But it was too little, too late for her. She should have done this well three months ago.
  • Newt — again — did very well. He came out totally unscathed, which was his goal as the new front-runner.
  • Mitt — as usual — was steady and professional and prepared. And boring. He didn’t win any voters over to him. The Fox debate Thursday night will be one of his last chances to change the dynamic of this race. If he doesn’t do it on Thursday, he will lose Iowa — and the whole race can then tumble out of his control.

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