In the first, widely broadcast hour, Newt drew some blood from Mitt but didn’t follow up. Santorum nailed a couple of important answers on Medicare reform and working across the aisle. Rick Perry got some laughs and made a couple of strong Tea Party plays, including branding President Obama a socialist. Romney’s reminding New Hampshire voters, especially independents, of working with an overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts legislature was very strong, as were a number of his policy answers — as were Santorum’s.
In the last half-hour, Romney turned Newt’s attacks back on him and the former speaker lost his momentum and almost certainly turned off GOP voters by again appealing to the credibility of New York Times’s hit piece. Romney’s careful recounting of the charges made against Gingrich in the SuperPac ads repaid the first hour’s hit plus interest, showing that Romney will be able to counterpunch Obama if he is the nominee.
Santorum showed the same skill and emerges from the back-to-back debates very much the alternative to Romney.
But like last night, the biggest takeaway is that one of the biggest challenges facing the GOP nominee will be the absolute, undisguised bias of the Beltway MSM, which has now seeped into local media. David Gregory actually began one question by stating “the reality of the situation” in a completely partisan fashion, and also echoed the emerging Obama campaign theme of an obstructionist Congress. Gregory loaded the questions with obvious bias again and again, and Newt called him on it twice, as Romney did last night with George Stephanopoulos.
More examples of the MSM worldview on priorities: Gay rights returned for the 30th time in these debates, and one question asked Romney and Santorum to say something nice about unions, and another to Perry asked him to upset GOP voters. Hard to recall even one basic, objective question about how the candidates would govern differently from President Obama or what is so terribly wrong with the country. We have 8.5 percent unemployment, and the first hour with the largest audience doesn’t get a question about it or about the crisis in the Middle East and the Iranian thrust for nukes? It no longer should surprise anyone, but the baldness of the bias seems to reach higher levels each week.
Gregory’s asking Santorum to explain his objection to a nuclear Iran after stressing the 30-second limit sums it up. This wasn’t a serious debate, because the moderator didn’t approach his job seriously but as a flak for the president.