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GOP Florida Debate: Santorum Wins, Moon Colonists Lose

If Republican voters had only Thursday’s GOP debate in Florida on which to base their votes, Rick Santorum would be our next candidate for President of the United States.  In a debate that was considerably more lively than the Brian Williams-hosted NBC snoozefest last week, Santorum came off as passionate, principled and knowledgeable.  CNN’s Wolf Blitzer moderated the debate and was satisfactory as usual.  Clearly Blitz and the CNN higher-ups were anxious to see Newt and Mitt go after each other on stage.  Goodness knows CNN could use the ratings boost.  They got their wish as the two front-runners spent the first 20 minutes of the debate ripping into each other on various issues, including negative ads and bad investments.  It made for good t.v. and Romney was more animatedthan he’s appeared at any other time in this whole process…but while the Speaker and the Governor were going for the respective jugulars a strange thing happened.  Rick Santorum showed up.  He took every opportunity to point out the uselessness of two big government candidates (as he claims they are) arguing about who is more fiscally conservative and highlighted his extensive knowledge on issues of foreign affairs and threats to the safety of Americans.

Don’t get me wrong – each man on stage had his own moment at times.  Any of these candidates would make a better President than the current Blamer-in-Chief and they all gave adequate reasons why that was true.  However, there was something about the way Romney and Gingrich went after each other Thursday night that came off as..well, petty.  Santorum (and Paul, for that matter) seized the opportunity. As both men were distracted arguing against each other, Santorum made his case for why he thinks he is the candidate with the sharpest contrast to Obama, and therefore most suited to run against him in the general elections.  He laid bare Romney’s greatest weakness – Romneycare; and he chastised Newt on his global warming demons.

As usual, Ron Paul ruled the roost on domestic spending and issues of healthcare.  Ron Paul has a supreme understanding of the disaster of socialized medicine.  He is old enough to remember when medical care was affordable to everyone; he remembers the days when you paid your family doctor when you saw him, from your own wallet, and not through a behemoth third party.  Its Paul’s foreign policy strategy that sinks him as a viable candidate. His “let’s just get to know each better and be friends” approach to despots like Castro and Chavez likely did very little to endear him to Florida voters, many of whom have had direct personal experience with the horrors of the Castro regime.

For the record, I see no problem with discussing issues of space and the race to colonize the moon.  Many people seem annoyed by it, and perhaps rightfully so in the face of the enormous fiscal challenges we are currently facing.  However, I see it as an important discussion.  It speaks to the superiority of American ideas and innovation, something our current President has worked very hard to suppress.  When Newt speaks of going to the moon, he is talking about vision, not practicalities.  I see value in that and so I do not discourage such talk.  I do agree that it is a back-burner issue right now.  We have to ensure there IS an America going forward before we can talk about getting America back to the moon.

Hands down, this debate goes to Rick Santorum.  It’s hard to tell if this stellar debate performance will turn into a bump in Florida for Santorum’s campaign; but if Newt and Mitt have done enough damage to each other in that state, Santorum could gain a surprising turnout come Tuesday’s primary vote.  Florida is a winner take all state, so it seems unlikely that Santorum would win outright, but a strong finish could give the Senator some considerable momentum.  All eyes turn to Florida Tuesday night.  Be sure to check in frequently with Conservative Daily News for up to the minute reporting as the polls close and votes are counted.

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