No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Although the 13th and final Republican debate last night in Sioux City, Iowa,
was gaffe free, it was unlucky for Newt Gingrich simply because he did not
continue with the momentum he had been building the past few weeks.
He needed to do that and didn't. In contrast, Mitt Romney looked and acted
presidential and mostly attacked Barack Obama rather than his Republican
rivals. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry did reasonably well in the sense that
neither of them said anything really stupid or fumbled badly--but the bar
for them has been set rather low.
Ron Paul attacked Gingrich again and again, as he has been doing for
weeks, and his attacks appear to be working. He is slowly rising in the
polls and Gingrich is slowly dropping. If the phase of the moon is right
and the weather on Jan. 3 is something that Paulites love and everyone else
hates, he even has a shot at winning Iowa. But he has no chance of winning
any primary or caucus after New Hampshire and zero chance of being the
Republican nominee. Among other problems, while his economic program matches
Grover Norquist's fairly well (shrink the federal government to the point
where you can drown it in a bathtub), his foreign policy stands are anathema
to most Republican voters. To start with, he doesn't think Iran is much of
a threat and wouldn't do anything even if it were on the verge of acquiring
nuclear weapons. Most other Republicans would either bomb it to smithereens
or give Israel permission to do so.
The net result of all 13 debates is we are kind of back where we started.
The show started out back in September as Snow White and the seven dwarves, but after Herman Cain
dropped out, it mutated into Snow White and the six dwarves.
Probably 100 polls have shown that 75-80% of Republican voters do not want
Mitt Romney as their nominee. But the opposition is so weak and so fragmented
and so inclined to spectacular rises and equally spectacular subsequent falls, that all Romney has
to do is stand there, attack Obama, and wait for the rest to self destruct.
The thing he has to worry about--and he is certainly doing that--is that he
puts a lot of effort into Iowa and loses badly to someone, no matter who.
That person would then get momentum going into New Hampshire. If a challenger
won Iowa, New Hampshire, and then South Carolina, it would become a two-man
race for the nomination (and there is no chance whatsoever it could become a man-woman race)
and the campaign might go on for months. If Romney can win Iowa or at least
come in not too far behind the winner, he's probably got the nomination sewn up.
It is ironic that the normal situation is reversed this year. Usually
the Republicans have a single, strong front runner and the Democrats are
squabbling like toddlers. Now it is the other way around. If the also-rans,
like Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, and at this point, the once-promising
Rick Perry, were to drop out and support Newt Gingrich, conservatives
would have a genuine standard bearer in the general election. But since
all politicians are egomaniacs (it is a requirement for the job), they will
all stay in until after they go down in flames in Iowa, thus helping to nominate the one person in the
race they can't stand. On the other hand, indirectly by staying in they are
helping democracy since a Romney-Obama race is likely to be a close contest
between two fully functional adults, both of whom are clearly capable of
actually being President.
But again, this campaign has been so weird that over the Christmas
holidays, as families all over Iowa get together and talk politics, who
knows what might come out of it.
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-- The Votemaster
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Dec04 Herman Cain Drops Out
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Nov23 Romney's Extended Family Could be a Problem
Nov23 Republicans Ignore China, Eurocrisis in Debate on Foreign Affairs
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Nov06 Romney's Choice
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Oct12 Mitt the Inevitable?
Oct06 Steve Jobs and Politics
Oct06 Palin Will Not Run for President
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