Two Republican debates within 12 hours of each other are enough to make even the biggest political junkie fatigued. Sunday morning saw the follow up to the Saturday night ABC debate (Worst. Debate. Ever.) hosted by NBC and Facebook and moderated by David “Why are all Republicans racist, capitalist pigs” Gregory. Apparently the heathens at NBC don’t attend church. Surprising? Hardly.
This debate was much, much better than Saturday night’s martini fueled disaster (there was some question as to Sawyer’s sobriety), although that is not due to Gregory’s moderating, that much is sure. I won’t delve too much into Gregory’s liberal bias. We all know and understand where he’s coming from. It is no surprise that all his questions were thinly veiled “gotcha” questions so let’s not waste time on that. What was surprising is that the candidates seemed much more alert and enthused at this early morning debate than the previous night. With the possible exception of Jon Huntsman everyone on the stage looked alert and ready to rumble. Huntsman looked quite tired. I can’t blame him. He’s staked everything on a New Hampshire surge and I’m quite sure he spent the better part of the night boning up for this last debate before the primary votes are counted. Huntsman look tired, but he sounded more enthused than in any previous debates I can remember. He even reached out to attack Romney once or twice and clearly David Gregory and NBC want Huntsman to make a splash in New Hampshire. He is in last place in every poll but was offered more time screen time than most of the other candidates and certainly more than he’s received in debates thus far.
The real surprise this morning was Rick Perry. Saturday night he looked good, but Sunday morning he looked great. Perry is obviously staking his ground as the last “outsider” in the field and it seems to have reenergized him. He refused to be sucked into the gotcha questions and succinctly expressed his opinion that big government and socialist policies have been destroying America for far to long. Perry was also the only in the field Sunday morning to consistently remind voters that Obama is a socialist. Mr. Gregory didn’t like that. He offered Perry very few turns to speak.
Rick Santorum was much better than his very decent Saturday night performance. Perhaps his best line came when asked what he would do if his son told him he was gay (insert eye roll here). Santorum responded, “I would love him just as much as I did the second before he told me.” What a dumb question. It made me wonder if the moderator from New Hampshire has any children. As a voter I was most curious to see how he would address the right to work issue, as he had voted against it while in the Senate. He was offered the opportunity and explained that he voted against the legislation in the Senate because Pennsylvania was not a right to work state and he did not wish to give Washington D.C. the power to determine Pennsylvania state law. Its up to the voters to decide if that answer was satisfactory.
While each candidate did take a turn at jabbing Romney, the only one that really went for the throat was Gingrich, predictably. Newt is mad about Romney’s super pac attack ads and he has vowed to take down Romney accordingly. At this point a Gingrich win seems unlikely, but the remaining candidates will probably owe him a debt of gratitude when this is all over, since no one else is willing to go for Mitt’s jugular.
There was the typical line of questioning about gay rights and gay marriage because as we all know Republican primary voters are very concerned about that. Somewhere along the way two New Hampshire news personalities (I use that term lightly) showed up to self-righteously grill the candidates about why they are such cruel, racist, classist, sexist homophobes. They fit right in with David Gregory. Why do we let people like this moderate GOP debates? It does little to illuminate the real issues REPUBLICAN voters are concerned with.
Saturday night’s debate was a true and complete disaster. Sunday morning’s debate was slightly more dignified, but it was the performance of the candidates that elevated it in the end. Clearly these men are sensing that the final push is on. Perry seems to have finally awoken and is depending on a very good showing in South Carolina to garner the next GOP surge, which will be bad news for Santorum if he pulls it off. Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire will be very telling. I look forward to putting a fine point on some of these races… but please, no more Sunday morning debates. Especially from the East Coast. Some of us on the Left Coast actually enjoy sleeping past 5:30 a.m. on the weekends.
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