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Concerning last night’s debate, a few observations:

Newt received big applause, on being introduced. Quite big, actually. He has made an impression lately.

Mitt received maybe bigger applause. Do they remember his dad in Michigan? Probably not. (Been a while.)

I never thought I’d see these words beneath the name of a leading candidate for president of the United States: “Former president and CEO, Godfather’s Pizza.”

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I thought Cain was quite focused and sharp, despite all that has been going on in the last week or so. I remember that many said this of President Clinton, way back. There was a word: “compartmentalization.” Remember that one?

Ron Paul often makes a great deal of economic sense (I swear).

Beholding Jim Cramer, I thought of this: The mother of a friend of mine used to refer to The McLaughlin Group as “those people that yell.”

Huntsman asked this question, rhetorically: “What am I most concerned about?” Came off funny (not intentionally). Reinforced the impression of Huntsman as Joe Self.

An interesting and important point, Huntsman has made: Are our banks too big, for our own good? That would be a very good topic of a magazine piece . . .

That questioner in the middle, John? (Didn’t get his last name.) He was talking as though campaigning against Mitt.

He tried to tell Mitt that he was not asking about his “personal” character but about his “political” character. Oh, yeah, right: Big diff.

I’m not saying that “the personal is political,” as the Seventies feminists did. At least I hope I’m not . . .

Mitt had a quite interesting answer on this flip-flop question: Been married to the same woman for 42 years. Have belonged to one church. Etc. (I liked that Romney didn’t shy away from his religious affiliation.)

When he talked about being married to the same woman, I couldn’t help noticing, he was standing next to the Newtster.

A very good line from Perry: “If you are too big to fail, you are too big.”

That question that Maria B. asked about the relationship between the tax code and jobs? I don’t know whether she meant to be snarky, but it was a quite good one, actually.

When Santorum was talking about his 0 percent tax on manufacturing, I thought of an old National Review point: Why in the world have taxes on business at all?

Cain, answering the question on sexual harassment, said nothing about his wife. That stood out to me.

Santorum’s concern for the blue-collar worker, for those without college degrees: nice. (I mean that non-sarcastically, of course.)

Very nice line from Herman Cain, and true: Tax codes don’t raise taxes, politicians do.

Man, can Newt talk. I’m not talking about length (only), I’m talking about quality.

Maria asks Mitt why his 59-point plan doesn’t mention housing. Very accusatory tone. Mitt says, “Because it’s not a housing plan.”

Reminded me of Bill Buckley, facing Charlayne Hunter-Gault on the MacNeil-Lehrer hour. He had just gone down in a submersible to visit the Titanic. Hunter-Gault said, “Some people call what you’ve done grave-robbing. Why isn’t it grave-robbing?” Bill, blinking, befuddled, contemptuous, said, “Because it’s not robbing graves?”

My opening line, above, of course — “Concerning . . ., a few observations” — is an hommage à Bill.

Um, do my eyes deceive me, or are a few of Mitt Romney’s hairs out of place? Holy smokes, call the FBI (or something). Is this the new mussable Mitt?

Debating before a friendly audience — a cheering, you’re-the-best audience — is relatively easy.

I like this about Maria B.: When she kind of zings a politician, and the politician zings her back, she smiles, as if to say, “Good one.” She’s enjoying it along with the audience.

Rick Perry drops a lot of g’s, including in the word “killing.” The dropped g sounds especially good there, coming from the governor of Texas: killin’.

I love it when Bachmann says the word “bonuses.” Never has she sounded more Upper Midwestern. Right out of the movie Fargo.

Newt’s answer on the business he conducted with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? That’s what we call “brazening it out.” Before this audience, it worked. Other audiences?

Huntsman has such an unfortunate manner, I think. It’s not necessarily his fault. He often comes off as supercilious, self-loving, and snide. He may be none of those things. And he did get elected governor of his state, didn’t he?

I once knew a man who spoke in a very pompous manner. Not in private, but in public. When addressing a group. He just adopted this pompous tone. And he wasn’t pompous at all.

Ron Paul can talk in an unfortunately cartoonish way — a Mr. Magoo-like way?

His status as a doctor gives him extra strength when he discusses health care.

Cain calls the former Speaker of the House — not Newt — “Princess Nancy.” I think of her more as a queen.



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