The Corner

Romney Takes on Some Water










/* Style Definitions */


{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;







mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;











mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;




mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;


Romney had a tough start. Santorum had a very pointed question on his decision not to run for re-election in 2006, “Why did you bail out?” Romney responded with what Newt rightly called “pious baloney.” On this question, Romney simply can’t admit the truth—he didn’t run for re-election because he might have lost and, more importantly, he wanted to run for president. Romney absurdly characterized leaving office to run for another office as returning to the private sector. I’m not sure how much voters will be outraged by any of this. They probably assume every politician wants to run for office. But the exchange got to a certain falsity in Romney’s self-presentation that plays into more important doubts about his sincerity.

The other notable exchange came at the end between Romney and Newt on the Superpac ads. Here again, Romney was less than forthcoming. He said on the one hand that he hadn’t seen the ads and then immediately related some of the most damaging charges in them (carefully leaving out one of the most dubious ones, I believe). But he made the basic point that Newt has a lot of vulnerabilities and Newt came across as too whiny and peevish. One of Newt’s drawbacks as a debater is that his worst qualities come out when he’s on the attack; he soars the most when he’s not drawing any blood.

In general:

Romney was fine when not challenged and after the ferocious beginning that was the case for most of the debate.

Santorum continues to be strong—but is he standing out enough when the other candidates are performing well, too?

Gingrich is simply terrific when discussing policy and getting beneath the premises of the questions.

Perry may have gotten the best reaction of the debate in flawlessly naming the three cabinet agencies he wants to eliminate. He has benefited from being off to the side in these debates. There’s less pressure there and he can lump the field in all together without the need to engage with anyone in particular directly. His relatively strong performances last night and this morning may help him retain enough strength in South Carolina to play what I assume won’t be anything more than the spoiler role.

Is Huntsman showing enough movement that Romney finally feels the need to slap him down, or is it simply irritation? Huntsman acted as if he had been stewing all night over Romney’s attack on him last night for serving as Obama’s ambassador to China. With Huntsman, it’s all pious baloney all the time. He made out like he was hearing nothing but outrageousness, dishonesty, and hatefulness on stage all around him. His contingent in the audience either was extremely enthusiastic or under strict orders to clap at almost all his answers.    

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More
White House

For Democrats, the Party’s Over

If the Democrats are really tempted by impeachment, bring it on. Since the day after the 2016 election they have been threatening this, placing their chips on the Russian-collusion fantasy and then on the phantasmagoric charade of obstruction of justice. The attorney general accurately gave the ingredients of the ... Read More