Last night Florida and NBC got their turn at a Republican Presidential Nominee debate. Unlike in South Carolina on CNN and Fox News, NBC and Brian Williams told the audience that applause and outbursts would not be permitted. So here we have the media telling people what to do and how to act. Good start to the debate huh? Too bad "Freedom" and the fact that we lose more and more of it each day was not the topic of conversation last night.
First off, did anyone really watch this debate? I bet not many. Hard to imagine that just two days after the South Carolina vote took place there was already another Republican Presidential Race. The sheer number of these debates is becoming overwhelming (or underwhelming) to say the least.
Some have said the purpose of all these debates is that the Republicans wanted the greatest amount of 'airtime' possible for their candidates during the nomination process. Maybe, but could it also be that there is a huge amount of money being made by having so many TV events? Have no idea but just wondering.
Anyway, the debate last night was a boring one. Nothing really took place that might change the dynamic of the race. Pretty much if you were already backing one candidate over another you probably still are and if you are an undecided it seems unlikely anything took place that would change your mind.
One notable thing was that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich seemed to change roles. Romney was the attack dog from the very start of the debate tossing out a long list of negative assertions about Newt Gingrich and his past. Newt tried to stay above it all and play the new role of front runner since he now leads in the latest Florida polls and has pulled even with Romney in some national polls.
For those tuning in to see another "Newt Moment" it never happened. Granted, it would be almost impossible for Newt to continue to have moments like he did in the two South Carolina debates last week. People these days expect excitement and drama on every occasion and that is just not realistic. Remember when one short moment is said to have propelled Ronald Reagan to the nomination? One short sentence was all it took back then in 1980 but now people want a dramatic comment at every debate it seems. Not going to happen.
So Mitt Romney went on the attack which in the past he has not done real well in that role. How did he do? Actually, he did pretty well attacking Newt! He must have been practicing because he was polished in his presentation on subjects like Newt's arrangement with Freddie Mac which Romney called 'Influence Peddling' and the fact that Gingrich had 85 ethics violations against him and later resigned as Speaker of the House.
Surprisingly, Gingrich did not really attack back too much. Several times Romney said, "You resigned in disgrace" and Gingrich just let it go without a challenge. Newt did point out that 84 of the 85 ethics violations were totally dismissed as having no merit and were simply brought about by the Democrats trying to damage him as Speaker and get control of the House back. He mentioned that the Democrats were not too happy having lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years and wanted it back no matter what. The one remaining ethics charge he was later cleared of in 1999 after an IRS investigation. You can read about the dismissal of that charge here IRS Clears Gingrich Foundation
Newt said Romney was not telling the truth and making false statements and that he did not want to waste time discussing them but he would dispute each one on his website www.newt.org. He also pointed out that Romney used these same tactics against McCain and Huckabee in 2008 and the 'American People will not fall for it.' You can see Romney's latest attack ads at http://www.mittromney.com/
Without going through all the back and forth between Romney and Gingrich on who 'won' it seemed like the bottom line comes down to who you believe more. Romney's attacks seemed to have merit and so did Gingrich's defenses. So it is probably a wash as far as changing any votes. As stated above, if you were for Mitt going in you probably still are and the same can be said if you were leaning towards Newt you most likely remain in his camp.
About all these attacks back and forth...People do change over time and change their positions. A big part of politics is bringing up your opponents past record and trying to use that against them. As a voter how can we decide if a person truly has changed their views on certain subjects or are just saying what they think we want to hear? Newt is a politician and Romney is a salesman so they both are well skilled in knowing and saying what they think people want to hear.
As both candidates keep bringing up the others past it makes you wonder but the only proper way to move forward is to take them at their word now. We have all changed our minds. It does not seem logical to use something a candidate did or said 5-10-15 years ago against them today if they have come out and said they were wrong in the past and have changed their mind. We should take both of them at their word if they say they have changed their minds and were wrong in the past.
Remember, Newt's rise in South Carolina came about NOT from an attack on Romney. It came about from his attack on Juan William's and John King's questions in the debates that had nothing to do with Romney. That should be a lesson learned to both these guys on how to best move forward from here.
Yes, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were at the debate and both did well but attention clearly was focused on Mitt and Newt and rightfully so because Santorum and Paul are only showing support in the 10% range in Florida. Reports say that Paul is not going to even contest Florida except for the debates and Santorum will have a hard time competing because Florida is a media intensive state and requires lots of money spent on television which he does not have.
Ron Paul and Rick Santorum will probably do better down the road in other states. For Santorum to really get back in the race Newt will have to collapse. Since he is used to campaigning with little money though Santorum will hang around hoping that happens. Paul will stay until the end no matter what.
There is another debate coming up Thursday night. Hopefully, this one will be better.
If you want to watch the debate here is a link to a replay (don't know how long it will stay active)