(Belated) Reactions to the CNN-FL Debate

To my regular readers:  I apologize for the delay in publishing my reactions to this debate.  I unfortunately found myself laid up with a stomach bug Thursday and Friday, so I was unable to publish this article until now.  Thank you as always for reading!
Thursday night, the four remaining Republican candidates for President meant for their 207th Debate in the 2012 Election (give or take four or five).  The polls have shown Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich trading leads for the last couple weeks.  We know this debate will not be the last…although the 208th Debate won’t be happening for nearly a month.  So this debate was a big one.  Not only is Florida the first winner-take-all Primary, but there are five primaries happening between now and the next debate.
Newt Gingrich – Buy (Buy):   

Newt came out of South Carolina on Saturday the big winner.  20+% swung from Mittens to Newt, largely on the strength of the two debates leading up to South Carolina.  Now we’re on to Florida, with again two debates before the primary. 
At the beginning, Newt said something I’ve said again and again: Ronald Reagan was called “unelectable” too.  How’d that work out?  Reagan crushed Jimmy Carter in 1980.  That’s because real conservatism wins every time it’s effectively communicated.  That’s why Newt is rising, friends, he’s effectively communicating conservatism.
Mittens tried to go after Newt on his record, and Newt dodged and weaved with skill reminiscent of Mohammed Ali. I think he did a great job of responding to Mitt’s attacks.  I think Newt was more relaxed this debate, but do not confuse that for failure to be strong.  He had more of a Ronald Reagan “There you go again” mentality with Mittens, yet stronger.  He showed why he can absolutely smack down Obama’s guaranteed lies and spin in a way that will be convincing while also effectively communicating conservatism.
I heard Speaker Gingrich comment that it seemed like the Romney campaign filled the room with supporters at this debate.  When I heard it I thought to myself “Oh Newt…come on.”  Then I watched the debate.  Mitt got huge applause on baloney lines and for sounding like a jerk.  So maybe Newt was right after all.
I thought Newt did a pretty good job of dealing with the onslaught from Mittens, if you paid attention just to the volleys back and forth between the two and not to the decidedly pro-Mittens crowd (whether that was by design or by accident, I’ll leave that up to you to decide).  I think Newt was right to be absolutely furious with Mittens when Romney started complaining about false attacks from Newt, given how many false attacks that Mittens launched at Newt, especially in Iowa.  It was, of course, a bunch of baloney to hear Mitt start to get self-righteous about attacks when he’s been the greatest user of that sort of attacks and then he’s pretended it wasn’t him. 
As far as the idea of a private sector Space Race: First of all, it was made to be a silly concept, but of course it wasn’t silly when John F. Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon.  Given a Newt’s concept, a fiscal prize setup for the company that got the job done, that wouldn’t be unbelievable.  Set a $10 Billion prize for the company that sets up a Lunar Colony and all of a sudden the private sector is going to get it done.  Is it a big idea?  Sure.  But this is a big idea country.  When Kennedy said we were going to put a man on the moon in ten years that was a big idea.  When Ronald Reagan said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” it was a big idea.  When Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their expedition to the West Coast, it was a big idea.  When Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad, you guessed it, big idea.  I think you get the point. 
I felt the one great “Newt Moment” in this debate was when Newt talked about his faith and the need of God in his life.  Friends, that moment was the moment that showed what I keep saying when people ask me how can I back Newt given his moral failures:  Newt, like me, is a repentant sinner, saved by the grace of God through the blood of Jesus Christ.  The song says “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”  A close friend of mine owns a shirt that says “I’m the wretch the song refers to.”  Newt is a sinful man saved by grace who has repented of his sins and is now serving God, and I know what the Bible says, that Heaven rejoices more over one sinner who repents than hundreds who need not repent. 
Newt was good in this debate.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think he was great.  I wish he had been.  If Newt can win in Florida, it will be a big, big victory.  A great debate would’ve made that an almost certainty.  He didn’t have that, and unfortunately that could mean he doesn’t win Florida. 
And then, just as I was feeling a little glum about Newt, I got the tweet that Herman Cain would endorse Newt, and that’s a big endorsement for Speaker Gingrich.  Combine that with the endorsements this week with the endorsements of Michael Reagan and Nancy Reagan, Speaker Gingrich has some solid conservatives endorsing him.  Then Newt said something that, not surprisingly gave me chills.  He alluded to having Senator Marco Rubio in mind as a running mate.  I will not count out Newt in Florida, as of now I’d say it’s anyone’s game (between Newt and Mitt).
Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):        
Ron Paul was asked early on if he was going to run as a 3rd Party candidate.  Congressman Paul has said over and over again that he won’t run 3rd Party.  (I’ve got an article telling you why I will guarantee with almost absolute certainty that Ron Paul won’t run 3rd Party…but I’ll make you read it when the news cycle allows.)  Rather, Congressman Paul showed really why he’s staying in this thing in his response about backing a theoretical nominee Speaker Gingrich:  He said that the Speaker has picked up on Congressman Paul’s beliefs on the Federal Reserve and a Gold Standard.  As I’ve said, Congressman Paul wants his policies on the 2012 Republican Platform, and if it’s economic and monetary policy, I absolutely welcome those policies.

Ah, Ron Paul.  Congressman Paul had his moments where I shook my head as he talked about Happy Imagination Land, for example, when talking about self-determination for nations when it comes to self-determining themselves into Communism and thus becoming our enemies and attacking their own people.  Then he talked about his fiscal policies and I stood up and cheered.  I’d love to see Congressman Paul in the new Republican Administration as the Treasury Secretary, or perhaps as the Chief of the Federal Reserve.  As I’ve said, I’m glad Congressman Paul is in my party, but I’m also glad he’s not going to be our nominee. 

Mitt Romney– Buy (Buy):   
Mitt tried to attack Newt.  I didn’t think it worked.  Honestly, it sounded like he was begging Republicans to settle for him.  Now I’d like to say that Mitt did not come off as strong in defending against Newt and was even weaker at attacking.  My friends, I’m not saying Mittens can’t beat Obama, because as I’ve said dozens of times, Foghorn Leghorn (R) will beat Obama.  Obama has been an awful President, and he’s going to lose.  So I won’t say that Mittens can’t win.  BUT, if Mitt’s going to be the Republican nominee, he’s got to get a whole lot stronger.  Or, Option B, we can simply NOT run a Rockefeller Republican (a better label I believe than “Massachusetts Moderate” in my opinion).
Mitt sounds Presidential when he’s given the chance to talk on his own about his policies and his free enterprise experience.  When he’s responding to attacks, he becomes less strong.  I love when Mitt says “I’m not going to apologize for being successful.”  He’s right.  Mitt earned his money.  He worked his tail off, he took risks, and he’s earned his wealth.  That’s called the American Dreams.  If Mitt becomes the nominee, he should thank Newt and Santorum for teaching him how to respond to those attacks.
Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.  You are just not going to make this easy on me if you’re the nominee, are you?  You really ticked me off in this debate.  He needed an “I believe in Harvey Dent” button on.  He gets indignant about attack ads, which I find the height of hypocrisy, because Mitt flat out knocked Newt out of the race in Iowa with those precise types of attack ads.  He had a pro-Romney crowd in that place.  Newt thought it was intentional.  Honestly, I can see how Newt felt that way.  Clearly, the Romney Attack machine has been working hard.
On the bright side, Mitt did deal with attacks in a way that will be necessary against Obama.  But Romneycare is going to be tough for Mittens against Obama.  I posted a commercial that Winning the Future PAC created about Obama’s Dream Debate (vs. Mittens) about Romneycare.  I think that’s going to be a tough, tough issue.  More importantly, we’ve got a stronger conservative available in this race. 
When Mitt wasn’t ticking me off he was Presidential and solid.  THAT Mitt I could get behind in a general election, if I can’t get my preferred, more conservative candidate.  Furthermore, if Mittens does use the same level of attacks on President Obama as he does on Newt, it’ll be a strong run and probably a landslide, but that’s because every single one of these candidates will beat Obama handily. 
Rick Santorum - Hold (Buy):
Ah Senator Santorum.  I like him.  I’m beginning to believe increasingly that he’d be a great George Bush (41) to Gingrich’s Reagan, while actually being genuinely conservative (which Bush 41 failed to be).  He’d be an excellent balanced to a guy like Newt.  As far as winning the nomination, Santorum has an uphill battle.  He doesn’t have the ability to use the retail politics that won Iowa in Florida and the upcoming states.  I think he’s back where I originally predicted him: a Vice Presidential option at best.
Santorum had a great debate.  I especially enjoyed when he made the point that Speaker Gingrich chose to use his experience to advise Fannie Mae and Governor Romney worked hard and earned his money and is very wealthy.  Senator Santorum was correct.  He did a fine job and I’m going to say this officially: Gingrich/Santorum 2012.  There.  I said it.  I think Senator Santorum would be the perfect running mate for Newt if he was our nominee. 
I like Santorum.  I like when he talks about his faith, because he, (like Newt and Ron Paul) are my brothers in Jesus Christ.  (I’m not going to delve into the differences between Christianity and Mormonism and why Mitt Romney and I do not share the same faith, save to say that my Jesus isn’t the same Jesus that Mormonism teaches.  Email me if you’d like a further explanation.)
I do suspect we’ll see Santorum drop out of the race after Florida, given the fact that he’s polling at one third of what Gingrich and Romney are getting.  I only hope he does right by the conservative values he espouses and endorses Gingrich. 
I watched this debate hearing how Mittens took it to Newt and how Mittens won the debate hands down.  I watched this and purposely did not judge based on audience reaction, and I honestly did not agree. Honestly, I didn’t think you could call any one man the winner of that debate, so I won’t.
Florida is going to be interesting.  Romney’s attacks are working, but not as well as they did in Iowa, mainly because Newt’s got the bank roll to fight back. Either way, this is going to be a long fight.  Remember, only three states have voted and Florida is the fourth.  So far Mittens has 33 delegates and Newt has 25, out of 700+ needed to win.  Florida is a fairly large prize at 50 delegates, but remember there are still 46 states left to vote.  So whether Newt wins or Mitt wins, there will still be a long drawn out fight in front of us.  Time will tell the rest.