Most focussed on of all was Newt Gingrich. Newt was tarred and feathered by his opponents for interpretations of his past positions on healthcare mandates, his approach to the explosive Israel vs. Palestine debate, marital infidelity, and his careers in and and out of politics. But the former Speaker of the House held his own and corrected mischaracterizations of his record by Romney, Perry, and Bachmann, setting the record straight concerning Ron Paul’s interpretation of the consulting that Gingrich did for Fannie Mae, and when it came to his personal life, admitting that he made mistakes and had to repent for those mistakes.
Gingrich’s personal life, specifically in the case of marital infidelity, came to the forefront after moderators asked the other candidate’s to address subtle innuendos in various campaign ads which tout their stable, longstanding marriages and suggest that their marriages are a sign of their good character, while the affairs of Newt are sign of his lack of character.
Many of the candidates admitted that Newt’s failed marriages were in fact signs of Newt’s serious character flaws and to his credit, Rick Perry showed some courage when he spoke words in front of Newt’s face that others would have only said behind his back. The Texas Governor said;
“I’ve always been of the opinion that if you cheat on your wife you’ll cheat on your business partner, so I think that issue of fidelity is important,”
Mr. Perry the went on to say;
“It’s a characteristic of which people look at other individuals, whether it’s in their business lives, or in their personal lives, or picking someone to serve in public office for them.”
“That’s just stirring up trouble,”
He then added;
“This is how we get into so many messes. I think it just fails us on a little bit of diplomacy.”
Romney also tried to take advantage of what he had hoped would be an opportunity to make Gingrich seem irrational, He told the assembled Republicans that “we’re not going to throw incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot.” Romney then went on to imply that Newt was a bombthrower.
But attempts to nail Newt to cross on that issue failed, and in the end Newt handled the question about his statement in a wat that won him the debate. He stated that he was merely doing what Ronald Reagan used to do, which was to have the courage to tell the truth no matter how unpleasant.
“Reagan believed in the power of truth. I’m a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite, I will tell the truth,” he said.
While Newt took the heat, withstood it, and won the debate, former frontrunner Mitt Romney was not nearly as nimble in defending himself as Newt Gingrich was and to make matters worse, he had his first major debate stumble of this election. It was a stumble caused by Mitt’s mouth forcing him to trip over his own feet.
When trying to prove to Rick Perry that he never never supported a federal mandate regarding the issue of healthcare, Romney turned Perry, put out his hand, and bet the Texas Governor $10,000 that he was wrong.
Way to go Mitt!
After three years of going sans tie to prove that he was in touch with the average voter, he successfully pulled a stunt that proved to those voters that he lived in a world that was not anything like their’s. Few Americans can fathom making a spur of the moment bet for $10,000 just to prove a point. For his part, Rick Perry did not shake the hand extended to him by Romney for such a bet. Instead Perry said he was “not a betting man”. Romney reacted with a shrug and throwing up of his hands as if to indicate, he won because Perry was not willing to put his money where his mouth is. But in truth, it was Romney who lost many points for that stunt.
Romney’s $10,000 bet not only gave voters the impression that he had a much more carefree attitude with finances than they do, he also demonstrated that he is out of touch with their plight during these tough economic times.
While his opponents on the stage did not immediately pick up on Romney’s gaffe and run with it, you can bet (pun intended) that there is now a race going on to see which one can turn the moment in to an ad and use it against Romney.
As for the rest of the candidates on the stage, Perry had a few decent moments and no embarrassing moments, but a few awkward ones. Ron Paul was Ron Paul and he did little to demonstrate that was either more electable or more competent than any of his rivals.
Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum did however perform quite well and make some powerful points that proved themselves to be the most consistent conservatives on the stage. That will go a long way in insuring that they remain viable alternatives to Gingrich and Romney in the remaining three weeks of the campaign leading up to the Iowa Caucuses and it is safe to say that after last night’s performance by Santorum and Bachmann, not only will undecided voters be considering the two of them, the two of them can and will pick up any support that Romney and Gingrich ose in the coming wakes. That means that you should not be surprised to see one or both of them finish far better than expected when the Caucus is over.
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