Only the mainstream media could make Newt Gingrich sympathetic on a personal level. All you need to know about the CNN South Carolina debate happened in the first three minutes, when moderator John King began the night by questioning Newt on allegations made by his ex-wife Marianne. Gingrich proceeded to do what he’s done best in the campaign–and better than any other candidate on the stage by a wide margin–and that’s rip into the MSM for their malignant and pathological liberal bias. For Gingrich, a man largely known for having a sordid personal history, to spin the interview that we were told could “end his career” into a net-positive is simultaneously a mega-victory for him and a loss for the increasingly embarrassing CNN. That is, of course, unless the media can keep the “open marriage” story alive somehow… The standing ovation last night wasn’t just for Newt; it was for all of us who have raised awareness about the Democrat Media Complex.
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Mitt Romney’s night will likely be defined by his mealy-mouthed non-answer when pressed on his reluctance to release his tax returns. I’ve been a proponent of saving anything that could be potentially useful in the general election for the general election, so up until recently I was sympathetic to Mitt’s plan to hold off on disclosing those documents until the likely event he squares off with Barack Obama. Why not try to trade them for Obama’s illusive college transcripts? Alas, it has become a political football, so Mitt’s probably best advised to drop them now. My only hope is that the other candidates’ insistence Mitt releases his tax returns post haste isn’t so that they can use them to play the divisive and dispiriting Occupy-style class warfare politics we saw last week. It’s startling that the record national debt wasn’t discussed last night, but the candidates talked about Romney’s tax docs until they were blue in the face.
Hopefully people will also remember Romney’s excellent answer when King asked what the candidates would have done differently during the campaign. Romney delivered a witty and self-deprecating line about how he would have made sure to secure 34 more votes in Iowa and then that he should have focused even more narrowly on Barack Obama, which has been the cornerstone of his campaign.
Since only four candidates remain, we heard a lot more from Rick Santorum last night than we had in the past, and I like him less because of it. We simply exceeded our Santorum quota. The former Pennsylvania Senator seems to be a man of integrity and we share many of the same values, but he only has one tool in his kit, and that’s a bludgeon. I’m aware there’s typically a moratorium on Reagan’s 11th Commandment during primary season, but Santorum’s inability to be subtle overwhelmed. Anger is often a good thing and negative campaigning tends to work, but after about an hour and a half of Santorum ripping into the other candidates, all I could hear was…
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Thanks to Santorum filling the role of anti-Romney attack dog, Newt was able to stay calm and collected, and that served him very well. If Newt can keep that up and keep the race tight in South Carolina (let alone win), we may well have a competitive primary after all.