Short version: Gilbert from Gilbert was the highlight – which is saying something; Santorum got in some good licks against Romney; Romney exaggerated his record (again); Paul is still Paul; and who told Newt to wear a purple tie?
There was a great deal of gloom, doom and fear mongering – even for a Republican Tea Party (GOTP) debate – with lots of lying and exaggerating from most sides.
Romney indeed not only continued to exaggerate his record – especially on “saving” the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, it’s a sporting event Mitt, not the world’s economy – and outright lied about the contraception issue from 2005, when he did indeed force all hospitals to provide emergency contraception (Romney says no hospitals are exempt from pill law – The Boston Globe), and when he continued to claim the same lies he first spouted at the Citadel about how the President’s gutted the Navy and all the military (Romney lied to Cadets at The Citadel?); that’s just two examples.
Romney also now claims that his new and revised tax plan will give everyone a 20% tax cut, flip-flopping once again in mid-campaign, and appearing to be in conflict with himself since he said just a day ago, “If you just cut — if all you’re thinking about is just cutting spending — why as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy, so you have to at the same time create pro-growth tax policies.” Clearly Mittens wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Ron Paul continued to play his part of Court Jester/Crazy Uncle well, claiming he was still in the hunt, when in truth he’s never been even remotely close to winning the nomination – although he’s closer this year than ever before, but that’s like saying you’re warmer now because you moved from Pluto to Uranus.
Gingrich was doing his best Benny Hill impersonation, and is done. A purple tie, really? It made him look ridiculous, and as he thumped across the stage with a foolish smile he looked as though he was playing charades and doing the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man; his star rose in South Carolina and plummeted in Florida. He’s way past done, and it’s almost sad to watch him continue on thinking he has a chance.
Santorum continuously went on the attack against Romney but came across as just being petulant and not presidential; he failed to deliver any real substantial blows against Mittens and thus failed to capitalize on his momentum. He was mostly Mr. Gloom talking as though 9-11 had just happened and how if things don’t change there’ll be “human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” The whole fear and frenzy thing is wearing very thin, and I think most Americans want to hear someone talk about brighter days and the future and stop harping on the evils of the world and how the Visigoths are at the gates.
The hall was visibly packed with Romney fans, either by design or coincidentally, and they cheered loudly for him, and booed at times when others challenged him – of course Mesa has a very large LDS population and that no doubt helped, the fans were on his side and that has to help give his sagging campaign a boost.
One of the most telling moment came when the candidates were asked to describe themselves in one word and one word only; Paul said consistent”, Santorum said “courage”, Romney said “resolute” and Newt said “cheerful”. What’s telling is that not one of the GOTP candidates said “conservative”; it was a big fat opening for Santorum’s to land a massive body blow and he chose “courage”? He lost a golden moment opportunity.
What I take away from this hopefully last GOTP debate is that all they could focus on was hate, gloom and despair; there was too much talking laced with fear and too little talking coupled with hope and optimism. The fear factor worked well in 2004, it’s overplayed now, it’s deceitful and it’s going to come back and slap them in their collective political faces.
If this is truly the last of these GOTP debates, all I can say is, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we’re free at last!”