We all saw the debate last night and in my view Mitt took it to Newt, and Newt didn’t quite know how to handle it. Great debate prep by Mitt. A couple other suggestions:
1. Mitt needs to continue taking it to Newt. One of the exit poll results showed that people made their mind up in South Carolina very late, and were influenced by a perception that Newt would be able to take on President Obama. Those of us watching debates for more than a week know Mitt has no difficulty debating, but, like the rest of his message, he’s going to have to keep pounding it again and again: he’s the only guy that can take on Obama, not only on the debate stage but also in the general election.
2. Besides the style points, in my view Mitt must also take on the concept that Newt’s got the “big ideas.” I believe that’s false, and Mitt needs to compare his ideas vs. Newt’s to show why Mitt is the superior choice, particularly on the economy.
3. Newt still will not win a general election. Mitt’s point is right on, and can’t be repeated enough: Newt had a chance to lead the GOP in the 90s and was forced to resign due to ethics violations. That man can’t be the GOP’s standard bearer, end of story. Most news outlets I read that move beyond the reporting about “momentum” are all chuckling, especially the Democrats, at the prospect that Newt Gingrich could possibly be the GOP’s nominee. Obviously we’re not there yet, but it’s a horrifying prospect. One joking report was that liquor sales spiked in DC after the South Carolina results: champagne for the Democrats and whiskey for the GOP.
4. This election will be decided by independent voters. The GOP will carry the right. The Democrats will carry the left. The king makers are in the middle. While I believe the independents are ready to shake off Obama, I don’t believe they will do so with as much ease as one might think. Particularly if the economy, due to its usual resiliency, recovers in any degree before November, which may in fact happen. Mitt’s point isn’t that Obama caused the recession, but that he prolonged it. And it won’t be to Obama’s credit if there’s a recovery, but a recovery lessens the sting felt by people and will make independents harder to earn. Also, independents may agree in part with Obama’s argument that it’s the old GOP that caused the issues the economy has. Newt, as the consummate Washington insider, can’t distance himself from the policies of George W. Bush and the early 2000s GOP as easily as Mitt can. As a result, Newt can’t win independents. Aside from more ties to Bush, his positions are too “grandiose,” to use his own term. I’d say “nutty.” You can see my prior post about arresting Supreme Court justices, and look at Newt’s positions on child labor, moon colonies and more. He’s “an idea a minute,” per Rick Santorum, but no leadership. Independents are less likely to vote for someone rightfully viewed as extreme or unreliable. They will remember Newt’s past. The Democrats will bring it up. And if Newt is our nominee, I don’t think he can win.
Gideon Rachman of The Financial Times Says “Romney vs. Obama is What America Needs.”
This headline caught my attention today. To summarize, Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times (one of the world’s most prestigious financial journals) says Newt, while an amusing side show, complete with jilted wife, can’t beat Obama. He suggests American needs a debate of the merits of capitalism, and Mitt vs. Obama is the only way America can have it.