Mitt Romney claims his great contribution to conservatism is raising a family, and 4 other reasons to be glad you didn’t watch the NBC Republican debate.
1). Mitt Romney Refuses To Release More Than Two Years Of Tax Returns – When asked by Brian Williams about what is in his tax returns, Romney said that there were no surprises, but he quickly pivoted to his tax plan and dodged the question. Romney used an interesting phrase in the follow up when he said that he pays what is “legally required,” and then he said that his tax returns were legal. This means that there is going to be a whole lot of unethical but legal maneuvers in Romney’s taxes. Romney said he won’t release more than one year and an estimate, even though both George W. Bush and Barack Obama released years of tax returns before they were elected president.
2). Mitt Romney Gets Desperate and Panics – Those who watched Romney try to take down McCain and Huckabee in 2008 recognized tonight’s tactic. Romney seemed to panic tonight and hit Newt Gingrich with every charge that he could think of. He charged that Gingrich was a failed Speaker who moved to K Street and became an influence peddler. Romney used every negative attack he had. The problem was that the attacks weren’t clear or simple. Mitt Romney threw everything at the wall, and he is hoping that something sticks.
3). Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney Tout The Bush More War Foreign Policy – Gingrich and Romney both showed their true colors in the area of foreign policy by promising to revive the Bush attitude towards dealing with other countries. Gingrich talked tough about dealing with Iran and claimed that dictators only understand shows of strength. (Gingrich might want to take a look at how much N. Korea’s nuclear program advanced under George W. Bush’s hardline policies.) Mitt Romney promised to continue the war in Afghanistan until the Taliban are defeated. (Romney might want to go ask the Russians how that worked out for them.)
4). Mitt Romney Lies About Obamacare – As Romney floundered, he went back to his bread and butter of attacking President Obama. Romney claimed that Obamacare added a trillion dollars to deficit, but according to the CBO the Affordable Care Act reduces the deficit by $1.3 trillion. In fact, if Obamacare is repealed, the deficit will actually increase.
5). Mitt Romney Claims He Contributed To Conservatism By Raising A Family – Mitt Romney was asked what he contributed to conservatism, and his answer was that he raised a family. Romney also claimed that he helped conservatism by being a businessman, and he was a moderate governor of blue state. Gingrich replied by leveling Romney with all of his conservative activism going back to Barry Goldwater.
Winners and Losers
1). Newt Gingrich - The other two candidates left Gingrich alone and Mitt Romney spent the first part of the debate trying prove that he was either the devil, unelectable, or both. Romney wasn’t able to injure Gingrich and Newt avoided the big mistake. Unless Gingrich implodes, Romney is going to have a difficult time catching him. With two debates in five days, I suspect that Gingrich is saving his best stuff for the second Florida debate.
2). Ron Paul – The yardstick for Paul is simple. If he is disciplined and he avoids ranting about the Fed or any of his other pet issues, he comes off as a reasonable, rock solid conservative. When Ron Paul doesn’t get pushed on his positions he looks pretty good, and on a night where Romney floundered and Santorum faded, Paul was the second best on the stage.
1). Mitt Romney – The formerly undisputed frontrunner tried to go negative on Gingrich, but he went too negative too fast. Instead of selecting one or two charges to level at his opponent, Romney let everything loose. He was all over the place. He threw out so many allegations that he might have confused voters more than devastated Gingrich. This was a different Mitt Romney. Tonight, Romney looked scared and desperate as he has realized that if he doesn’t pull out Florida, the nomination may slip away.
2). Rick Santorum - Santorum has gone from being the flavor of the week in Iowa to invisible. With Romney playing the moderate and Gingrich beginning to consolidate the conservatives, there is little support out there for him. Conservatives were concerned that Santorum and Romney were going to split the Republican vote, but Rick Santorum’s candidacy is vanishing before our very eyes.
Final Verdict: Were the candidates suffering from a post South Carolina hangover? Have we finally found the number of debates that it takes for these candidates to hit the wall (18)? Romney tried to hit Gingrich, but he mostly missed. Gingrich tried to assume the mantle of the frontrunner, while Santorum and Paul were playing catch up. After some early fireworks, this debate settled into some seriously typical Republican Florida vote pandering. There was nothing in this debate that changed the state of the race.