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Charleston South Carolina Debate

Charleston South Carolina Debate

Endgame assessment: Newt stole the buzz with the opening smackdown of John King over the issue of his ex-wife. After that Santorum was very aggressive, going after both Romney and Newt time and again; people either will like it or hate it. After a while he became grating. Romney has a strong debate, except on the income tax return issue where he once again seemed ill prepared. Newt was okay in the debate after the initial smackdown, but not the standout mostly because Santorum was on attack all the time. Ron Paul was not much of a presence.

The closings were very telling.  Newt and Romney talked about the need to defeat Obama and how important it was to the country, Santorum talked about himself.

If Newt has momentum, I don’t think this will slow it down.  Romney and Paul will keep their support, the big question is whether Santorum can slow down the drift of not-Romney voters to Newt.

At the third break:

Immigration came up, and Newt came up with a formulation of not deporting grandmothers and grandfathers, and a host of other legal effects to dissuade hiring of illegals.   Newt got pretty loud applause.  Romney said they need to go back home, the applause was light.  Santorum went after Romney on changing positions.

Santorum was pretty much all attack all the time.  On immigration, abortion, etc.  Even hit Ron Paul on abortion rating of 50%.

At the second break:

Santorum went on the offenive again against Newt in very personal terms, “that worrisome moment” we can’t afford.  Newt hit back very effectively.  I’m curious what others think, because I’m not neutral.  I found Santorum offensive and not very likable.

On tax returns, Newt announced he just released his.  Romney said in April, but on question of why not now, Romney said he was afraid of how Democrats would use them.  Santorum said his are on his home computer?

Is it me, or is Santorum growing angrier with each minute?

At the first break:

CNN opens with question about Marianne — Newt hit it out of the park, in the ultimate debate smackdown.  He could not have asked for it to be brought up in a better way.  Romney, in a classy way, refused to pile on Newt.  Santorum took the opportunity to put in a few digs at Newt as did Ron Paul, but in indirect ways.

Romney handled the Bain issue better than before, giving a speech about capitalism.  Regardles of the topic Romney came back to the capitalism and free markets theme.

Santorum no much of a presence, but had a sour tone to him going after other candidates, particularly on the health care mandate.  To an extent he did Newt’s dirty work, but then turned on Newt as well.  Romney has a pretty vigorous defense, and sparred with Santorum.  Overall, it was a powerful moment for Santorum on balance.  Ron Paul actually helped Romney and Newt by pointing out Santorum has been big government.


I’m going to give my assessments at the breaks and when it’s over.


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“Ron Paul, the insurgent.” lol

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Ron Paul needed to remind the audience that he’s a veteran.

Newt calls King on the carpet.

Santorum caves and shows his true colors. What a wimp. Romney is magnanimous. Paul is just plain nuts.

    McCoy2k in reply to IFTYS. | January 20, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Magnanimity IS NOT going to help Romney win the White House. The Democrats and the media see it as weakness, because they are not honorable, they don’t play by the rules.

Rambling, but basically good answer by Ron Paul.

Santorum cuts Romney with his capitalism (not to much profit) stiletto. Way to go Ricky.

Great answers by Santorum on veterans returning from war and cutting military budget.

DINORightMarie | January 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Man, is this guy King full of hot air!! Let this person’s question be answered, don’t “frame” it for Romney!

Uh oh, Santorum plays the RomneyCare card.

Santorum is playing the cry-baby so well. I use to like this guy. Now I wish he would do what Rick Perry did. Bow Out. GOOD-BYE.

Did Santorum set up the right-hook/one-two?

What’s happening to Newt? Santorum is more forceful than him…..and making more sense with specifics.

Either Santorum or Romney this segment.

Does someone have any cheese with that Santorum wine.

Midwest Rhino | January 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Santorum looked kinda like he was going to cry while he was saying Newt might be unstable … or whatever term he use.

He still seems a little shaky.

Santorum: I left my homework at home.

SoCA Conservative Mom | January 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Paul… does he always ramble on? Rambling… not answering the question.

Good, Newt. “I favor freedom!”

Way to poison the well, Uncle Ron.

Santorum is shaky but generally strong tonight.

I’m sorry, but Santorum just seemed nasty tonight. Some of his comments about Newt were below the belt, IMHO. And no, I’m no great fan of Newt although given who is left in the race I’m pretty much hoping he pulls it out.

Santorum reminds me of the kid in school who was always nasty and then ran to the teacher once you decided you finally had enough….

Santorum seems off tonight. Angry, a bit rambly. That tax answer was weird… He’s not coming across well to me. Seems like the bitter little brother trying to play with the big boys.

Paul just rambling tonight. That one answer, not sure what it was on, I think he lost his place…

Romney is doing well, except for the income tax deal.

Newt doing well, he likes to debate.

I think the back and forth between Santorum and Gingrich over “the worrisome moment” needed to be said. Gingrich’s record is positive, but the endless parade of sourpusses is squelching that history.

Romney may not realize it, but he was attacking Reagan tonight. I thought Gingrich might key on that but it didn’t happen.

Fred Thompson is in the audience.

Santorum almost always looks a bit angry and that edge grows sharper whenever he’s trying to be aggressive.

That said, he was making a solid point about Newt’s grandiosity and constant efforts to inflate his own importance. I tend to doubt that at this point, anything Santorum does will win back voters who have switched to Newt in recent days but he’s probably holding onto what he has and preventing a total collapse.

My 17 year old (who’s on the school debate team) is totally impressed by Newt. He loves how fluent Gingrich is on virtually every subject.

SoCA Conservative Mom | January 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Santorum is uncomfortable. He’s cracking under the pressure.

Mitt, you’re not usually questioned at all.

He’s pro life. At least, tonight…

Santorum seems more panicky than angry — wishing he had worn his talisman sweater vest.

Holy crap Ron Paul had a lucid moment!

Midwest Rhino | January 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Santorum came across to me as the back bench player while Newt was front line. Newt listed when he stood up to the Republican establishment. Santorum seemed more like nit picking, though he had some good points. Newt supporting the mandate for so long was maybe the best.

Mitt took the opportunity to say that is why we need an outsider … people think he knows business, but I’m not sure they think that can easily be turned into an effective politician. It is questionable whether he was effective or conservative as governor … though that didn’t get questioned real well.

Romney was solid .. but Newt has political experience and accomplishments and can express them best. And he has Perry and Palin in his corner …

Santorum gets the bail-out in at last.

Mittens is toast in Florida on the immigration. He will try to flip-flop back to amnesty if he wins the nomination, but it won’t work.

I think the winning position in FL (which we have to win) is less than amnesty but more forgiving than the most hardline deport-them-all.

But I don’t think anyone sees how weak Mitt really is right now on the non-monolithic Latino vote.

    valleyforge in reply to PrincetonAl. | January 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I think Romney really misjudged Republican sentiment on immigration this cycle. He has been much more hardline than any of his competitors. It actually hurts him slightly in the primary by looking intransigent (I know, ironic) and will hurt him far more in the general if he gets there.

Newt did not stay on target tonight. It will cost him.

    punfundit in reply to punfundit. | January 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    He needed another big night tonight. Now he’s going to have to make up for it with the whirlwind tour to end whirlwind tours.

    I’m not so sure about that. He was fine rather than spectacular, but this may be because he’s set such a high standard for himself. I don’t believe this debate will “cost” him.

      StrangernFiction in reply to raven. | January 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      Newt needed to do well relative to Mitt, and he did. Mitt really lost it at times tonight. Case in point: “This is not a time to be doubting people’s words.” You’re a politician Mitt. Sheeeeesh!

      punfundit in reply to raven. | January 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      He did set an extraordinarily high standard, which he did not meet. I (personally) liked his answers.

      Perhaps it won’t cost him, but he should finish the SC campaign as if it will.

If Santorum is the nominee, I will not vote. If it is close, I will vote for Obama. That’s right… I would rather have four more years of Obama than Santorum. If the country is going to ride the handbasket, I would rather a Democrat navigate.

Again I will go by what my 17 year thinks…which is that Newt was impressive. He thought Ron Paul rambled, Santorum looked overwhelmed, and Romney spoke well with very few good ideas…

huskers-for-palin | January 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Oh please (eyes rolling). If you wish suicide, be my guest.

DINORightMarie | January 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm

The one line that was most telling to me on Romney was the “I’m not used to having my integrity questioned.”

Flip-flop Mitt?! The main criticism most have on him is his ability to change his view on any issue like a chameleon!

Romney will not do well against Obama. Thin-skinned. Stone-faced. Not able to make points without looking a bit annoyed and wide-eyed – even breathless, especially when under pressure.

Paul is Paul. Crazy Uncle Ron, rambling in a circular way. We don’t have time for him to “work on his ability to present his ideas” when Obama is up next!!

Santorum came across as weaker, lack-luster, and not ready for the presidency. Maybe one day, but not yet.

Not Romney. Not Paul. Not Santorum. Newt.

    StrangernFiction in reply to DINORightMarie. | January 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    “I’m not used to having my integrity questioned.” Unbelievable. There was also, “this is not a time to be doubting people’s words” and “maybe you’d like to be governor of Massachusetts.” Not a good night for Willard.

Professor, to answer your question about how Santorum came off, as a neutral party to the Santorum-Gingrich dispute I thought it was a betrayal to bring up something Gingrich told him privately at the time of the check-kiting scandal. Santorum basically laid out all of the Republican establishment’s primal fears about Gingrich in a rambling rant. Gingrich didn’t address the check-kiting accusation but schooled Santorum very effectively.

The rest of Santorum’s attacks were old hat and washed off Gingrich. The Romneycare attacks stuck a little better and Newt may want to follow up on that next week.

    punfundit in reply to valleyforge. | January 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Yes, the mandate question is going to linger. I think Gingrich will do fine with the issue, and I don’t believe Gingrich seeks a RomneyCare USA (ObamaCare) mandate. I need to read more about his take on the issue, but I recall a conversation he had last year (don’t recall with whom, maybe Rush) where he acknowledged the mandate premise is flawed and there are free market solutions which can address the responsibility issue much better.

My buddy who has never watched a debate before just told me, “I wish that Rick Santorum Guy would drop out, he’s just annonying”

After Newt hit it to planet X on the opening rumble with King, the rest of the debate didn’t sparkle as much. I thought Santorum was carpy and unnecessarily nasty. Romney was evasive on the taxes especially. Paul was lucid some times.

I know there’s a lot of Paul-bashers here, but I will say this was one of his best debates on points. Too much rambling, yes, but he brought new angles to issues even where the others agreed with him, and he got in his attacks and reminded viewers of his credentials. He also brought several issues back to the “overseas spending” formula – tying his economic and foreign policy platform together in a populist theme.

I’m not a Romney fan, he was steady tonight. He has very little passion. Flat debate.
Santorum….time to leave the stage, i dont think he would be an effective cabinet member, let alone Commander in Chief. Obama would mop the floor with him
Paul…coud be used to help set domestic policy in a cabinet position.
Gingrich..also not a fan, but he is making me sit up and pay close attention the last few debates.
Perry dropped out, he was my choice.

Should IL actually get to have a say in the primaries, I’ll vote Newt.

What has changed in six weeks? The younger, newer are gone. They’ll be around, which is good. the survivors are all better – better at defending themselves, better at responding to attacks, and more articulate about themselves and their records than before. But still, what we started with, all public men, the men we knew and know. In the end Newt was and still is the best counterpuncher. He is respectful but has been ruthless in smacking down arrogant, thoughtless MSM media men. Arrogant? Thoughtless? Sound like anyone we know? Bring it on.

Gingrich, Paul and Romney will continue. Good move forward on immigration solution debate with Newts plan. That will help the Republican party..and will help Newt. Having Newt’s tax returns come out during the debate with such easy identifiable numbers as $1M tax on $3M income is going to stick in people’s minds. 1 out of every 3 dollars to the federal government. Crazy.

    punfundit in reply to CWLsun. | January 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I’m on board with Newt’s immigration ideas, with room to argue.

    The premise that we can round up 11 million illegals and send them packing is ludicrous. Consider how many illegals share generally conservative values (aside from the breaking and entering part). Why aren’t we reaching out to these communities and including them in our proposals? We don’t need to compromise and they don’t (aside from getting right with the law). Instead we alienate the aliens, driving them into the hands of the jackal left and their street agitators. Newt has the right ideas.

Newt just gave us a preview of the Smack-Down he’ll give to Obama given the chance to debate 🙂

    My thoughts exactly. Obama and his liberal sycophantic lame stream media are very worried about a Newt/Obama debate especially in the format that Newt is proposing.

    Do people really think Obama is going to debate anyone? I think it was a given by most in Washington that Obama would not lower himself or need to always cancel scheduled debates for a “crisis”. It was genius of Newt to not accuse Obama of “debate no show” by challenging Obama to “Lincoln/Douglas style debates”.

    “He said for the first time that if he were to win the Republican nomination, and Mr. Obama did not agree to a series of seven long debates, he would follow the president around to every campaign stop he made to rebut his speeches.

    “From that day forward, for the rest of the campaign, the White House will be my schedulers,” said Mr. Gingrich,

    punfundit in reply to MontereyZman. | January 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Something I appreciate is Gingrich obviously knows the dinosaur establishment media will come after him (or whomever) with everything they’ve got. They’ll throw the kitchen sink at him, as we as your neighbor’s kitchen sink. So what do he have to lose? Call them on the carpet for their shenanigans and take his message directly to We The People.

    He got a mini-standing O tonight for his King skirmish.

John King: If you could have a do-over in your campaign, what would it be?
Paul: I would improve my delivery by rambling a little slower.
Newt: I would have ditched my consultants before they ditched me.
Romney: I would have spent another four years to get 25 more votes in Iowa.
Santorum: Nothing. I never dreamed I would have sold 1000 sweater vests in two weeks.

No doubt in my mind that nominating Ron Paul would make me vote for Obama. Shows absolutely no leadership skills at all. He’d be good for telling bedtime stories though.

RON PAUL: Standard Ron Paul. I think if you asked Ron Paul who he was picking in the NFL playoffs, or how the weather’s supposed to be tomorrow, he’d find some torturous way to demand we recall all our armed forces and diplomatic staff from around the world. Took off the crazy mask tonight and replaced it with the cute old coot mask. No chance at GOP nomination, knows it, doesn’t care – he’s just pushing the hard libertarian message.
Obama 97% / Paul 3%.

RICK SANTORUM: It seemed to me that as the debate progressed, it became clearer to Santorum that what he needed to happen wasn’t happening. Along with Paul and Romney, I think he understood that John King had given Newt a huge gift by so egregiously teeing off with the ex-wife thing. I think Santorum saw things fading finally away and wasn’t so much angry as he was tired and frustrated. His best moment was his reply on the fluff question – what’s the one thing you’d change in the campaign so far? Santorum is tougher than folks know, but Obama, I fear, would slowly wear this guy down .
Obama 54% / Santorum 46%.

MITT ROMNEY: Again, more standard boilerplate, debate prep rote recitals. Very little spontaneity, except when responding about his tax return release – then he spontaneously drew a blank and got flustered. Romney did not slow Newt’s momentum, nor improve his own lot. I think he suffered more damage from Santorum than Newt. Not sure how many heard it, but while on his ‘I’m the outsider here’ answer, Romney said he knew the ‘real streets’ of America. Puh-lease. If Romney knows the streets of America, it’s because his house servants showed him pictures of it. Glass jaw, too reliant on prep and scripting, too impersonal, zip on charisma, cannot close the deal.
Obama 52% / Romney 48%.

NEWT GINGRICH: How many leftie media scalps does he have hanging from his belt now? I’m almost tempted to believe Gingrich paid John King to open questioning like that. Here’s the pitch………… BAM! Home run, deep right field. Gingrich now owns the only two standing Os from debates. The problem was that it was tough for Newt to top his first answer, the takedown of John King. No matter…. Nobody was gonna top that, so Newt was up three TDs in the 1st quarter. The rest of the debate was fairly standard poke and jab among the players, nobody really outstripping anyone else. Thanks to John King and the editorial staff at CNN who approved that opening question, Newt basically had a knockout in the first minute. And yes, I DO relaize I’ve worked in three different sports, which constitutes a hat trick – and the fourth sport, hee hee.
Gingrich 53% / Obama 47%.

PREDICTION: Barring some Evil Newtism or other unpredictable, in SC it’ll be…

Romney…… 33%
Paul………… 17%
Santorum…… 12%

If Newt wins SC, prepare for all-out war from the Romney camp and GOP establishment. I believe they have not yet played what they believe is their highest card (trick) against Newt Gingrich and will do so before Florida.

    Mitt spent most of the debate either stuttering or deflecting questions. His evasions about his income tax returns were quite pronounced.

    punfundit in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    During Florida.

    huskers-for-palin in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

    I agree with your assessments. Romney CAN NOT let this fester into Super Tuesday. If there’s a crack in the Romney dam, Romney’s supepac and surrogates will be loading up on caulking putty big time to sure up the damage. Afterwards, they’ll go on an all-out offensive which will make Iowa look like a picnic. Two words come into mind: “scorched Earth”.

    Have they shot their ammo? At what point does it become a “law of diminishing returns”? I think Newt just hit the perfect pitch on the right frequency.

    Two other things: (1) Will Santorum hear a “huge sucking sound” as Newt siphons off his supporters? Right now, it’s Newt vs Santorum for the anti-Romney candidate and Newt has the “it” factor going for him. (2) What of Sarah’s BIG closing speech at CPAC 2012? What will she do? Will it be a “resume enhancer”, endorsement for a candidate, run for POTUS (doubt that) or something else? Can she be the one who tips the scales for Newt on Super Tuesday? That would be a game changer.

      The establishment has been pontificating that Sarah is best used as a cheerleader from the sidelines. They’re more likely than not going to get their wish, but it never occurred to themselves it would happen INSIDE the primary.

      Re: scorched Earth.

      That may well backfire now. Romney now becomes the unhinged bitter bastard attacking the leader.

      Time will tell.

    workingclass artist in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Santorum will drop out after he comes in 4th in SC.

    Mitt is now the outsider?

    Gaping hole on that stage now that Perry is gone…but there it is.

    It’s a two man race between Thurston Howell and the Skipper and somebody needs to tell Gilligan.

“Romney said they need to go back home, the applause was light” The mild reaction to sending illegals back to Mexiico was the biggest surprise of the night.

Newt was great but missed it a bit. He forgot to mention the most important reason why it was a stupid question about the ex-wife: His ex-wife is not something that can be DEBATED with the other candidates. That is why and he should have stated it and not leave it as a given or obvious.

Excellent summary Mr. J.

Sorry, folks, I know I’m kind of $0.02 y’all tonight, but I’m really enjoying your comments.

Professor, your observation about Santorum was exactly the same as mine. Every time he spoke, I wanted to grind my teeth. As for anger, I think he knew his only option was to attack , attack, attack — and in the process he became a one-trick pony.

Did he smile at all? If so, I missed it.

BTW, I happened to like Ron Paul tonight. He was not shrill and he consistently took the libertarian approach to all questions. Fortunately for him, the debate did not center on troops, wars, pork-barrel politics or antisemitism.

Sadly I missed most of it. The take down of King was awesome! Almost peed myself I was laughing so hard!

Did King ask Romney about the McCain Opposition file? Probably not, do they think people are actually gonna let them fatten up the GOP so they can serve him to the DNC? Only Mitten wearers are falling for it.

Did Romney take his line about Reagan’s diary in attacking Newt from an Ann Coulter column?!/AnnCoulter/status/160217719336214528

Mittens, trying stand-up comedy.

does anybody doubt that newt would tear obama a new one in debate ? my fear though is that newt could come off/be painted as a ‘typically mean’ republican and give obama some sympathy votes. i also wonder if newt’s take-no-prisoners debate style would translate well into the presidency. between his ego and his predilection for ‘going off’ he might be more difficult to deal with than we would like. on the other hand, romney’s congenial, businesslike demeanor can seem robotic and dull but may serve us well in the oval office, assuming that he can make his case against obama impressively enough to get him there. i’m standing at the crossroads, wondering which way to go.

    Newt’s opening exchange with John King showed that he could fight both the media and Obama at the same time. Mitt can’t do that.

    Newt has a long history of being a Reagan conservative with a conservative record of accomplishment: 4 balanced budgets and welfare reform.

    Mitt Romney has a long history of opposing conservative policies and conservative leaders. Mitt even opposed the conservative icon of the Republican party: Ronald Reagan.

    Mitt Romney saddled his state with the socialized healthcare plan known as Romneycare, the building block for Obamacare.

    At the heart of RomneyCare is the individual mandate. Romneycare’s individual mandate is antithetical to the core philosophy of the Republican party.

    An analysis of Romneycare by Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute found that, on average, Romneycare:

    •    cost the Bay State 18,313 jobs;

    •    drove up total health insurance costs in Massachusetts by $4.311 billion;

    •    slowed the growth of disposable income per person by $376; and

    •    reduced investment in Massachusetts by $25.06 million.

    In addition:

    “the state’s health-care costs have been heavily subsidized by billions of dollars in federal aid through a Medicaid waiver program.”

    And if you are wondering why conservatives aren’t excited about Mitt? It’s because many do not want the party to nominate a man who is fundamentally at odds with the party’s core philosophy.

    Canusee in reply to el polacko. | January 20, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Newt will get cheers on the big scores like at everyone’s enemy, the media (using King to do so) but it is the little petty meanies he does, the quiet unspoken ones. I am not a RP supporter and yet I find myself getting disgusted with how Newt, the big guy on campus, treats the non-threat underdog. When Newt doesn’t like you, he can’t stand to even be in your presence and can’t hide it. Case in point, Drudge has pic up of all four candidates standing in a line with hands over hearts. There is little forlorn RP off to the side, looking like a little, lost puppy or pathetic, little old man (remember not discussing if these things are true or not about RP. OK. So now everyone is using the pic to laugh further at Paul, who is not ever going to win the nomination. But look closely at pic. It is Newt who moved out of sequence and distanced himself from RP. That is just tacky & not nice. He did not, obviously, like his slot so he threw a mini tantrum at someone else’s expense. (Yeah, yeah, I know RP is open territory but it lacks grace and class on Newts part no run someone else party his way or no way) It is these silent bully/temper tantrums that will come back and bite Newt in the main election as a hypocrite.

    punfundit in reply to el polacko. | January 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I have no doubt Barack Obama’s handlers will use that strategery, but I suspect it won’t work. Gingrich is known for his scathing evaluations of political opponents. He’s done it to Democrats most of his adult life. I wonder if the talking heads will just say “that’s just Newt being Newt. Obama’s people should have been better prepared for this, like Clinton’s people were.”

    And somewhere, off in the distance, Hillary cackles.

Midwest Rhino | January 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

The first question served Newt well, whether that was its intent or not. And Newt made clear what most know, that big Media will protect Obama, and dredge up any old dirt possible on Republicans.

Romney and Santorum both have big government credentials, so both wanted to knock Newt on his conservative record. Romney says his Dad got as much mention in the Reagan book as Newt. Santorum says his own party wanted to get rid of Newt.

Newt came back with a list of his credentials. I don’t know if Newt was impetuous or undisciplined in the 1990’s … he seems to have a grasp of things now, and ability to express the conservative cause better than others. That ability is important for a president.

Romney in an earlier election only claimed some 10,000 jobs, now he is over 100,000 because four companies he says they started, have 120,000 jobs. So he takes full credit. I’m not clear yet how much involvement had in those companies, or which companies he means. Last I read, Bain only had a 10% stake in Staples. WSJ seems to be defending the LBO era … I think there are big ties between the era of leveraging up our economy and our current malaise/crisis (depending on your economic viewpoint).