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Arizona Debate

Arizona Debate

Endgame analysis:  No question Newt won, but no single huge moment that is likely to shift the polls dramatically (or fundamentally).  Just a consistent strong performance, that’s the pretty uniform assessment from relatively neutral people I’m following on Twitter.  Really bad night for Santorum, off message, harsh, just strange performance, a missed opportunity.  Good night for Romney, no gaffes, mostly strong.  Ron Paul was Ron Paul.

At the third break assessment:  Possibly best segment for Newt.  More of a presence.  Really bad segment for Santorum.  Romney not much of a presence.

On issue of Iran, the split was pretty obvious, 3-1.  Romney had a very strong answer about everything wrong with Obama Middle East policy, refusing to help those going against hostile regimes while helping those against our allies.  Santorum and Newt were good as well.

Santorum had an awkward moment on No Child Left Behind, basically said he went with the team.  Gave Paul an opening to jab him.

At the second break assessment:  Again, I don’t think it went well for Santorum.  Everyone (other than Newt) seemed to get under his skin.  He handle the contraception issue well, but Newt stole the show on that (see below).  If it’s a debate match between Santorum and Romney, Romney is winning, he seems to have the oppo research more at the ready.  Ed Morrissey:  Newt winning debate handily.

Newt scored when John King asked question to Romney about birth control, Newt intervened and pointed out that MSM never asked Obama about his vote for infanticide (voted against Born Alive Infant Protection Act as a state senator).

Newt on problem, while the others were arguing about “When you have government as the central provider of services U inevitably move towards tyranny.”

Romney used my point on Santorum’s endorsement of Arlen Specter resulting in Obamacare, but no h/t.

At the first break assessment:  Don’t think it was good for Santorum, he appeared agitated and off focus.  Romney was okay, but go into a lot of tit for tats with Santorum.  Newt was not much of a presence, but when he was brought in had the winning lines of the segment, the ones that will be replayed.  Ron Paul was affable, appeared to be having the most fun, particularly when prodding Santorum.

Santorum and Paul got into a bit of a tit for tat, mostly Paul prodding Santorum by standing behind an ad calling him “fake.”

Romney and Santorum were center stage both physically and in time for questions.  It actually got somewhat ugly as they argued over earmarks, line item veto, etc.   Don’t think it was good for either, although it put Santorum in the position of defending earmarks.  Newt actually had a good moment, in which he mocked Romney on earmarks: “”They got what you got, but you think what you got was right and what they got was wrong.”

Before the start:

I’ll give my assessments at the breaks and then at the end.

Seems like everyone has a lot to lose tonight.  Newt needs to reestablish himself, so he can lose by not winning.  Santorum needs to transition from the caricature being drawn in the press.  Romney has to avoid any more $10,000 gaffes or being rattled.


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I think I am going to play a drinking game in which I take a shot when I hear “Satan” or “contraception”. If I drink so much I wake up with a headache, it is going to inspire a nuclear-powered rant about the inanity of the event (which should actually be focused on jobs, the budget, and national security).

Wolf Blitzer pre-debate interview: it’s a sporting contest between the candidates and the media! Now we know.

[…] we will watch tonight’s Republican debate at 8:00 p.m. on CNN. Tonight’s debate is presumed to be important to next week’s voting in Arizona and Michigan. If Romney loses Michigan much of the rationale for his candidacy will disappear. So […]

[quote]Seems like everyone has a lot to lose tonight. Newt needs to reestablish himself, so he can lose by not winning. Santorum needs to transition from the caricature being drawn in the press. Romney has to avoid any more $10,000 gaffes or being rattled.[/quote]

And Ron Paul has to stop being Ron Paul?

It would be interesting to see someone go hard after Romney just to see if he “freaks out”.

    Terri in reply to GoldenAh. | February 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Oh goodness! Ron Paul is a trip!!! hahahahhaa
    Q: Why are running an ad saying that Santorum is a fake? A: Because he is a fake.

Newt doing well, Rick not doing well, which is good for Newt. Romney and Rick looked terrible going after each other on the whole earmark thing.

DINORightMarie | February 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

So far Romney and Santorum are going at each other way too much, IMHO. And, they need to stop the “moderator” from adding to the questions by inserting his agenda points!

King is such a tool……MSM hack.

I’m surprised how much CNN has let them talk about the economy. Gotta give the MSM some credit where it’s due.

DINORightMarie | February 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Watching Romney and Santorum is like watching Johnny Carson talking to Ed McMahon – when they went back and forth. 🙂

Newt is head and shoulders above the rest.

Santo got booed a couple times in the second break. Not good for him, Romney did not look good fighting Rick either. Paul was off in the mountains of Afghanistan again, and Newt was on message with positive solutions. (That’s my analysis at the second break).

Newts always turning it back to contrast against Obama policy. Fence business doubled. Hilarious. Loved Gov. Perry’s reaction. Newt’s the man with solutions…specifics…smart man.

Donald Douglas | February 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Santorum’s doing fine, but so is Newt. Mitt is Mitt. He rarely steps out with anything flashy. Ron Paul needs to drop out. He’s a distraction.

Newt is the only person who seems to be able to assimilate other peoples good ideas around him into his thinking, which is why I think he comes up with solutions. It must be the teacher and historian in him. Great teachers do that. Great historians learn from history.

“Romney used my point on Santorum’s endorsement of Arlen Specter resulting in Obamacare”

So Romney thinks it’s a bad idea to support flip-floppers. Hmmmmm….

If you put a ham sandwich in the seat where Ron Paul sits, would those people still cheer? Do they realize how ineffective he has been as a politician?

Newt is the one I want to answer the red phone at 3AM.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I found out tonight that Mittens saved the Olympics in Salt Lake City? I never knew this, I am totally voting for Mittens now/

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Raquel Pinkbullet. | February 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    The US Taxpayer saved Romney’s A$$ on both the Olympics as well as his business and gubernatorial efforts.

    I DO NOT want the US Taxpayer to pay for his presidency!

    In his first day as Speaker of the House, Newt saved the taxpayer 35 million dollars.
    He is the one we need.

    He is able to think things through and make better decisions than Romney any day of the week.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | February 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Someone ought to add up all the Taxpayers money Romney has utilized to balance his budget, float the Olympics, Bain etc.

      Romneycare even cost the Taxpayer money!

        According to Media Matters of all places, Bain received $44 Million in a pension bailout while Romney paid millions to K Street lobbyists to squeeze $342 Million, much of it earmarks, for the operation of the SLOC Mo-lympics – that is the all-time record, exceeding the government dole provided to Atlanta by $50 Million.

        If you really want to be upset, the $342 Million was on top of $1.2 Billion paid out by taxpayers to provide the infrastructure in the Salt Lake area for venues, housing and improved roads. Mr. Romney’s five Mormon friends in the Congress did that dirty work.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Mitt is resolute:
Romneycare 3PM “I’m pro Life”

Romneycare 4PM “I’m pro choice”

Romneycare 5PM “I’m pro life and pro choice”

Romneycare, whatever you are, he’ll be, until he meets someone new!

Newt. He could have taken down everyone – but he remained positive. That, along with his knock-out answers made this a win for him.

I hope the poll numbers flip and Newt is #2 (or, even better #1!!) so he can get the wins he needs.

(Did anyone else notice that the crowd seemed too loud when either Romney or Paul spoke? Did they bus in their crowd support or what?!)

The one thing I gathered from tonight is that Santorum is willing to admit and learn from his mistakes, while Romney refuses to admit past failures.

And Gingrich remains the best in debates, no question.

Missed the first hour, but I’m assuming no Fast and Furious/Solyndra questions? All four had a chance to mention vouchers for education and failed to do so. I feel that would be such an easy way to win over swing voters but no candidate ever seems to want to voice support. Stuck in a failing school system? Vouchers are your way out. Easy sell, easy votes. And it would actually HELP education in this country.

No question Newt won, but no single huge moment that is likely to shift the polls dramatically (or fundamentally)

They only have to shift one undramatic vote at a time.
I hope the voters realize what’s at stake.

Spot on summary, pretty much.

Paul had some very good lines, and then went all Area 51 on bringing the draft back. But he was actually pretty crisp on some of the domestic stuff at times, less rambly than usual.

Newt did as well. If Newt stayed like this all the time, he would never have lost his lead. Not well enough to get it back, probably. Newt on Partial Birth Abortion showed Santorum how to win over everybody with social conservatism.

Romney was competent, but never compelling.

Santorum lost a lot of support tonight. Stumbling, angry at times, not presidential in tone. He thought he was winning just when he was speaking, but he and Romney going back and forth in the weeds made them both look bad.

I also think that while the candidates took a cue from Newt and did a bit better at redirecting King’s question, I still think they could do a lot better. However, take Newt off the stage, and I think these guys forget to do it.

If one good thing came out of these debates, if all candidates raise their awareness of how to handle the media and the dishonest question framing, a small victory has been won.

Let’s hope.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Santorum- went off the deep end tonight doubling down on Specter: “The Defender of liberty”
Newt -won the debate hands down.
Mittens -showed robotic command of his answers, no passion, nothing.
Paul- tin foil hat was tightening up as the night wore on.

Santorum was really shining in the Spin Room. He answered the questions really well.

If Newt gets the funding and some media attention, he can come back.
He was brilliant as usual tonight.

But if Republican RINO operatives like Matt Drudge don’t cover it, and he is ignored, all is lost.

Newt: You need MEDIA MEDIA MEDIA. Seek it out. Agree to every interview everywhere in every State.
Oh, and stay on message.

That’s the only way to win against this media machine and win The People.

    janitor in reply to Tamminator. | February 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Gingrich is purchasing 30-minute blocks of media time between now and Tuesday. Give money, now or never.

      PhillyGuy in reply to janitor. | February 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Yep. With what little money Newt has, he’s going to spend it on an infomercial that no one will watch. As brilliant and smart as Newt is, he has these moments where he does baffling things.

        Tamminator in reply to PhillyGuy. | February 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

        Baffling how? Because you don’t understand them?

          PhillyGuy in reply to Tamminator. | February 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

          No because who is going to sit through a 30 minute commercial at this point? They are not effective and never have been. People go on with their lives.

          Newt is more effective going on talk shows and radio programs.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I’m so glad the Republicans did a debate moderated by CNN! I really loved all the time we focused on Fast and Furious, Solyndra, FourSquared /

Newt and Santorum have not had the money Mitt has had to do oppo research. They could have used it because I’ve always been surprised that no one has consistently hit Mitt on his MA record.

Mitt should have been challenged again on his own religious liberty problems with Catholic hospitals in MA, and about the truth ordering state troopers to enforce immigration laws. I think he gave that order a few weeks before his term was up, and it was essentially meaningless.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to INC. | February 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for that in-depth information.

    Romney has a pattern of dishonesty in everything – statements, claims, ads, business – all across the board. Last debate we documented seven lies.

    The truth is far from him.

      Well, I suppose my comment was rather banal. I just keep expecting–or hoping–to see Mitt pounded every time he says something designed to reinforce a conservative image.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 22, 2012 at 10:29 pm

My continuing subjective impression of Santorum is that he seems to spend a lot of his debate time either looking annoyed, sounding defensive, sounding angry/passionate.

But he seems very…. reactive.

Unless he can change that – and at his age it’s hard to change – he’s not going to win the visual contest against 0bama.

I find Santorum is always talking about himself. “I voted for this, I fought for that, I opposed this, I lead on that, I’m stealing Newt’s success here, and there”. Newt just talks about the solutions in his platform, with the one exception which is his plug about balancing the budget and reforming welfare. Everything else is on solutions, Santo is too self obsessed and it really irks me. Mitt is unconvincing and can’t articulate most of the time (broncho dilator anyone?), Paul is paul.

    janitor in reply to JDmyrm. | February 22, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    That could be said for Romney too, although it’s not as noticeable because when he talks about himself it’s unclear who he’s talking about.

    Tamminator in reply to JDmyrm. | February 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Um, it’s a job interview.
    He’s trying to sell himself to the American people.
    And if you don’t get that, then I’m guessing that you suck at job interviews.

      I give the job interviews friend, and I’m saying if you can’t solve my problem, I don’t care how many character references you have, or what you did in the past – I ain’t hiring you. Newt is selling himself to the American people by giving them a solutions platform and demonstrating competency with the issues. Santorum has failed at both during these debates. Accept my critique or not, just my opinion.

      Tamminator in reply to Tamminator. | February 23, 2012 at 12:31 am

      HA! I’m guessing that all of my thumb downers suck at interviews.

We really have to change this MSM debate moderation system. You have to have the legacy TV media to reach the voters, but there has to be a better way to pick moderators. King was less obvious this time (likely still healing from his last Newt smackdown), but he still pulls a lot of sly tricks, as did the producer calling the camera shots. King asked a question, I forget of whom, that basically called for the candidate to either (a) agree with GOP governor Rick Snyder of MI that the auto bailouts were good, or (b) contradict the GOP governor of MI less than one week before the very important MI primary. Nice choice, ya prick.

As for the CNN producers calling camera shots, did you notice how they made sure that whenever Santorum was speaking, er, defending himself, Ron Paul was always on screen, same shot, mugging and giggling and waving his hands around? Made them both look like fools. Well, made Santorum look like a fool – it just confirmed that Paul is a fool. I’ve usually been simply amused at Paul’s wackiness, but tonight I wanted to slap his ass off his stool. That clown would get us all killed.

Also, whenever Romney or Paul managed to get a protracted round of applause and yahoos after an answer, King held back and let it play out, but whenever Santorum or Gingrich won a round of applause and yahoos King immediately cut it off by beginning his next question, often having to yell over the audience to do it.

They need to get moderators that understand the issues, are capable of true objectivity, are not famous in their own right from their media jobs, and have no anti-GOP/pro-lib agenda. They don’t have to be conservatives necessarily, but at least objective. I’m tired of paying more attention to the moderator than the candidates because I know they’re playing games with the questions and process.

Newt won by sticking to solutions and eschewing small point attacks. I particularly liked his reply on the immigration issue – the whole issue, not just the illegal problem. Newt spoke of the uselessness of grand and global approaches the others were proposing and recommended a piecemeal approach – first you seal the border, then you do this, then you do that, etc. It showed he knows how to get things done in Washington, how you herd so many cats as found in the US Congress, and that grand proclamations are well and good during a campaign, but the actual work takes many smaller steps, not mega-bills of dubious process, hidden content, and dubious outcomes, a la Obamacare. Newt understands that the true governmental reform we need is built step by step, piece by piece, not with monster programs. A President Gingrich could provide the leadership – and political cover – that Congress would require before they’ll do anything substantive with our country’s monumental problems. Newt would help them with their public approval numbers, maybe even getting them into the double figures if their legislation is effective. Seriously, though.. Newt has hands on experience with major government reforms toward the conservative ideal. Any fool can talk – Newt can lead.

Professor, Mitt actually failed to h/t you TWICE. He also made the connection between the ABC debate questions about contraception and the Obamacare contraception mandate without giving you the nod!

I thought they all missed an opportunity on the last question about “how have you been mischaracterized?”

None of them answered by stating the obvious and refuting it.

    Tamminator in reply to currently. | February 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

    So true, but like a job interview, you minimize your faults and focus on your strengths.

    This is a job interview to America.

      currently in reply to Tamminator. | February 23, 2012 at 1:15 am

      I didn’t see it as having to go on defense to minimize your faults but rather as an opportunity to maximize and explain your strengths.

      This “job interview” is for a leader.

Hawkins -The scary part is we can’t even count on our Fair & Balanced network Fox to do decent debates. This primary would’ve gone to Romney in Jan. if it wasn’t for debates by other MSM. Rest of your read was awesome as usual. Newt, as always, delivers for the American People. If people don’t wake up to Rombo & Santo, we’re in deep doo-doo. Where’s Retire & Astro tonight? Awful silent on they’re part. Could it be there candidate didn’t cut it in the debate?

    Henry Hawkins in reply to ThreeputtinIL. | February 23, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thank you very much. Retire is doubtless breakfasting with Gov. Perry, then to shine his boots, while Astroman can’t post until after the professional pundits do – so he can reword and regurgitate them as evidence of his oft-claimed predictive expertise.

    Moderator Dream Team ‘draw pile’:

    Mark Levin
    David Burge (Iowahawk)
    William A. Jacobson
    Rush Limbaugh
    Thomas Sowell

    BurkeanBadger in reply to ThreeputtinIL. | February 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Aw come on! Ya mention Astro and Retire but not me??? 🙂 For the record, I didn’t watch the debate; far too busy at the office and pretty much taking a break from the circus until next Tuesday night. I’ll be back then, though, to revel in Mitt’s spectacular victory in Arizona, his “upset” in Michigan, and his virtually unstoppable steamrolling to a sweep of Super Tuesday.

    Yeah, yeah, I’ve said it was over before. I know. But, we are really getting close now.

[…] Eyewitness reports say Newt won, Satanorum lost, Mitt was present and Paul was Paul. […]

Aside from Santorum coming off as just arrogant and self righteous, his solutions are never very specific. Paul is just out of mainstream America. Gingrich is by far the best of the bunch. He always goes point by point on specific ideas and solutions without rambling on and on. I don’t like to watch debates but it sounds like Santorum did not do well from what others said and hopefully this will wake some people up about supporting him.

[…] Newt supporter William Jacobson: “No question Newt won, but no single huge moment that is likely to shift the polls […]

[…] on Fox peddling the “Santorum under fire” meme?Meanwhile, here is pro-Gingrich blogger William Jacobson’s takeaway from the Arizona debate:No question Newt won, but no single huge moment that is likely to shift the polls dramatically (or […]

For reasons I’m still struggling to fully identify, Santorum is somehow both alluring and repulsive at the same time. It isn’t just points of policy or issue – there is a sense of something quite good and quite bad within the man.