Reactions to the NBC-Florida Debate

Last night, NBC hosted a debate in Florida, the first of two this week.  First and foremost, I want to give NBC the award for stupidest debate presentation ever.  What is below is the TV Guide for LAST NIGHT as of 6 pm:

That’s right, gang, not only did NBC NOT list the debate as “Republican Debate” or some other such thing but instead listed it as “Rock Center with Brian Williams” (yeah, the place where the debate was held)…they also did not actually LIST THE THING as starting at 9!  Nope, the TV guide showed “Fear Factor.”  Brilliant, NBC, brilliant.
In all seriousness, NBC is either run by the biggest dunces in the history of ever or they were trying to under promote this thing (after all, a real conservative is winning and gaining support from debates.)  Honestly, I’m inclined to believe that it’s both.
Now to the moderators: I’m going to give Brian Williams some credit.  I believe he did a pretty good job of being fair.  He brought up the pertinent issues of the debate and actually gave the candidates a chance to respond to each other’s attacks.  I also appreciate him letting Gingrich and Romney go back and forth. 
Now, let’s take the time to play a game of Buy, Hold, Sell and Sell All.  In addition, I’ve included another comment for each candidate; what individual(s) I believe would be the perfect Vice Presidential nominee if that candidate was our Presidential nominee:
Newt Gingrich – Buy (Buy):   

First of all, Newt hit the cover off the ball with his response to the “open marriage” accusations from his ex-wife.  The reality is exes can say false things because divorce can be a painful thing.  But he answered it perfectly. He shut down this so fast it should give the Drive-By Media whiplash.  The Media will try their best to pin this story, but it simply is a distraction and Newt is going to give the Drive-Bys the kind of smackdown they deserve and that most conservatives fail to give.  He got a standing ovation from the live audience for his response.  It was absolutely the best response to such attacks I have seen in now 19 years and nine national elections of paying close attention. 
Beyond that, Newt had another very good debate.  His moments were excellent.  He really showed himself to be the Newt that I endorsed three weeks ago.  I would love to see him debate Obama, and I believe he will mop the floor with the Bamster in 2012 if he’s our nominee.  Don’t buy into the “unelectable” line, friends.  The same type of pundits said Reagan was unelectable.  Conservatism wins, and Newt will win if he’s the nominee.
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.
Best Running Mate:  Rick Santorum, LA Governor Bobby Jindall – (Both would bring a calm but strongly conservative balance to Newt’s attack dog style).
(Or, FL Senator Marco Rubio.)
Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):        
Hey…Ron Paul was at this debate!  I kid, but Congressman Paul was somewhat to the side of the three way battles that happened between Gingrich, Santorum and Romney, and sometimes he contributed some really great points.  Like his statement about the cost of a Made in China product vs. a Made in America product.  (I’ve noted before that a Made in America iPod, for example, would cost over $1000, and that’s for a 2 GB one.)  It was an excellent metaphor for the Paul campaign.  He’s here to promote ideas.  I think Congressman Paul knows that he’s not going to be the nominee, but he’s in this to rack up as many delegates as he can to force his ideas onto the platform, and provided they are the economic policies I want Ron Paul ideas on the platform. 

Side note: I never realized Dr. Paul practiced medicine as an OBG/YN…in my mind’s eye I saw him as a family practice doctor…and honestly (and yes, I know this is silly, I don’t hold any credence to this thought)…it’s just a weird thought to wrap my head around. 

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.

Best Running Mate Options:  FL Congressman (Colonel) Allen West – West would give Paul what he would desperately need…military strength.  Colonel West would be a perfect option.
(Or, FL Senator Marco Rubio.)
Mitt Romney– Buy (Buy):   
Mitt kicked off this debate talking about capitalism.  He reminded me again why, if I can’t have my preferred candidate, I can live with Mittens. He did an excellent job of articulating the difference between conservatism and what President Obama believes.  We believe that it’s good to take risk with money and make a profit.  We believe it’s good for those who take risks to make a profit, because that profit goes into purchasing goods and services and often gets reinvested into that company and that means jobs either way.  Capitalism and investment are good things.  Business is what create jobs, not government. 
Mitt said something last night that I’ve been waiting for him to say: “I’m not going to apologize for being successful.”  Amen!  Mitt should not apologize for succeeding.  He is a man who has worked hard, taken risks, and succeeded, and he should be proud of it.
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.
Best Running Mate Options:  SC Governor Nikki Haley, LA Governor Bobby Jindall - Both would give Mitt a strong Tea Party running mate to shore up the conservative base as well as a Southern support. 
(Or, FL Senator Marco Rubio.)
Rick Santorum - Hold (Buy):
Santorum gave Mittens a smack on Romneycare and really nailed it.  He also went after Newt on the topic.  I felt the punch landed with Mittens and hit the gloves on Newt. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, in boxing when a boxer blocks an incoming punch from his opponent.  Newt blocked it.)  When Newt responded, I watched the split screen between Newt and Santorum, and Santorum had a look of “oh darn he handled that” when Newt responded. 
Overall, Senator Santorum had a strong debate. He was good.  He came across as strong and solid, and believe me I would be fine with a President Santorum.  I did like Senator Santorum’s response to the tax release question: “I do my own taxes and I’m not at home.  They’re on my computer.  When I get home you’ll get them.”
I’ve commented that Governor Romney sounds Presidential.  Senator Santorum sounds like a great #2.  He sounds like a Vice President.  I do like the idea of Rick Santorum as Vice President.  He’d be a good strategic move because he can bring in Pennsylvania.  The only better Vice Presidential options I can think of are Michelle Bachmann (who can truly bag the Tea Party vote), Herman Cain (if he’s not so damaged after the baloney smear scandal) and…legitimate shivers of excitement…Senator Marco Rubio.  If I get my wish and Newt Gingrich is the nominee, a Vice Presidential nominee like Santorum would be a good balance.  If Mittens is the guy, we’ll need someone like Bachmann. 
One final note on Senator Santorum.  I realized something last night: Of all the candidates remaining, I do believe I LIKE Rick Santorum as a person the best.  He does seem like a genuinely kind, good hearted Christian man, the type of person who I’d love to have as my next door neighbor.  In a different time (like following a transformational President who got this country going strong again) he’d be a good President. 
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.
Best Running Mate Options: MN Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann  or KY Senator Rand Paul – Senator Santorum would need excitement behind him, the Tea Party, and a powerful attack dog and the power of the Tea Party.  Bachmann would bring all three. 
(Or, FL Senator Marco Rubio.)
Debate Winner: Newt Gingrich, by a nose (over Mitt Romney)
Florida has swung to Newt Gingrich in the most recent polls after his South Carolina win.  I felt Newt at least maintained his momentum tonight.  It’s going to be interesting, and it’s tough rounds to call right now.