Orlando, Fla. — For those attending tonight’s debate, Newt Gingrich is the man of the hour.
Many of the approximately two dozen people I spoke to said they were sick of the negativity and of the media pushing candidates to attack one another. They liked Gingrich’s push back during the debates, his call for candidates to talk about issues, not one another, and spoke wistfully about Reagan’s 11th commandment. They also viewed Gingrich as a smart man of ideas. Yet, even with all the praise, few seemed inclined to ultimately vote for him.
Many also expressed concern that the heated back and forths between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry would fuel Democratic attacks in the general, and drive people away from focusing on President Obama’s failings. None of the Floridians I spoke to — including some senior citizens — seemed bothered by Perry’s Social Security comments, nor had they noticed friends or neighbors being turned off. “It is a Ponzi scheme,” one elderly woman energetically snapped.
Enemy number one appears to be the media, both for promoting the Romney-Perry spats and for asking terrible questions during the debates designed to pit candidates against each other. A couple of people told me they’d like to see every candidate have to respond to the same question, instead of the moderators tailoring questions for individual or subsets of candidates.