As I mentioned in a previous post, Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate was the first one I’ve been able to watch live because I wasn’t working.
ABC, the network that is finally canning hermaphrodite Christiane Amanpour, trotted out Diane Sawyer and little Georgie Stephanopoulos to be the moderators.
"Who is the most conservative of you all?" asks little Georgie. Mitt answers, "Speaker Gingrich and I have a lot of places where we disagree..." “Why don't you name them?” asked Stephanopoulos. "Er..." Romney said and then proffered Gingrich’s idea about building bases on the moon.
That set up one of the zingers of the night. Gingrich looked askance at Mittens and said, “Let's be candid, the only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”
The wise thing for Mittens to have done would have been to let that one-two punch go, but he didn’t. “With regards to the idea that I had beaten Ted Kennedy I’d have been a career politician, that’s probably true.” Can you say tailor-made line for a “not Romney ad”?
I was impressed with Michele Bachmann’s brilliant creation of the moniker “Newt Romney” implying that Newt backed the individual mandate in healthcare as far back as 1993. Romney tried to shut down that image by quickly adding, “I know Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is a friend. He and I are not clones. This Newt Romney thing we've got to get it out of our minds.”
Besides the two zingers I’ve mentioned here, the part of the debate that will resonate for a long while was when Rick Perry throttled Mitt by saying, "I read your first book, and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts, which should be the model for the country ... I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend."
Romney brazenly erred when he shot back at Perry saying, “You’ve raised that before, Rick, and you’re simply wrong. Rick, I’ll tell you what: 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?” That was the “oops” moment of the night. That one’s gonna leave a mark.
There was a mini-debate about Gingrich’s comment that the Palestinians are an “invented” people which was Romney’s strongest exchange of the evening.
Larry Sabato tweeted, “So it’s obvious: Newt wasn’t jostled from frontrunner’s perch tonight. Only negative TV ads or Newt himself can reverse his course.”
That bit of news is sure to make some pundits apoplectic.