Newt Gingrich won tonight’s debate, which he needed to do, but not because he out-maneuvered his opponents. Santorum and Romney were simply too focused on each other, with Paul tag-teaming alongside Romney (ambition makes strange bedfellows). All of this gave Gingrich cover and also gave him the opportunity to be the only candidate that directly and repeatedly went after Barack Obama. He looked like a statesman. His answer on infanticide and shifting the focus from GOP and birth control to Obama and his campaign against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was the rhetorical feat of the night.
Santorum needed to be the Florida Debate Rick Santorum, the Santorum that showed true grit and a willingness to push back against the narrative that somehow, socialized state health care (socialism is socialism at any level and just because states can vote themselves into it doesn’t mean it jives with the principles of the Constitution) is worse than the earmarks and NCLB for which he has spent the better part of his campaign disavowing. I didn’t agree with all of his reasoning for some of his past transgressions (i.e. Specter support) but I also don’t operate under the illusion that any of these cats have a perfect record. I do think that some have worse records than others which is why I don’t get why the Non Roms don’t unite to point out that taxpayer-funded abortion or a $700m increases in taxes/”fees” is worse than earmarks and disavowed support for NCLB or Medicare Part D. Romney failed to actually address that question and deflected brilliantly.
Romney was second place in tonight’s debate, though it was a weak performance. He’s almost good enough to battle the MSM narrative; he failed to turn it back on them concerning his income (until the 11th hour and missed the chance to grandstand on it) and other issues. That’s important: Obama is done, politically, the MSM has him on life support.
Tonight proves Gingrich isn’t out of the game yet. It shows that it’s Santorum’s turn to be the punching bag as the new non-Rom leader.