The Campaign Spot

Newt’s Ideal: 21 Hours of Debate, Loud Audiences, No Moderators

Today’s Florida Primary Day edition of the Morning Jolt looks at some polls showing Newt Gingrich gaining on Mitt Romney in the Sunshine State, Santorum’s declaration that he’ll stick to the high road, and the latest debate requirement from the field’s most-touted debater . . .

Moderators? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Moderators!

Jim Lehrer, we have had just about enough of you!

With his poll numbers lagging in Florida, Newt Gingrich returned Monday to his tried-and-true offensive against the media, declaring that if he’s the Republican nominee, he will not debate President Obama if a reporter serves as moderator.

“The reporters who run the debates have no interest in asking any question which will affect Obama,” Gingrich told a crowd gathered to see him at the Pensacola airport. “That’s why, as your nominee, I will not accept debates in the fall in which the reporters are the moderators because you don’t need to have a second Obama person on the debate.”

Wait, I thought the whole point of the Gingrich campaign was to get him up there on stage with Obama in the autumn and for Newt to mock the floor with him, and to knock around both teleprompters for good measure. This has been the primary selling point of all this: For whatever other challenges and flaws Gingrich would present as the nomination, he would offer several hours of berating the president with footnotes. You’re telling me he won’t go on stage if Obama gets to have a friendly moderator? Newt won’t play ball if he has to face the exact same setup that every Republican candidate has had to deal with for decades? No moderator is acceptable? Not Bret Baier? Not Jake Tapper? Not Chuck Todd? Not Candy Crowley?

At Hot Air, Allahpundit sighs, “Yeah, he will, but he’s obliged to say stuff like this on the trail now. Media-bashing has become his calling card. A Newt rally without it would be like a Stones concert without “Satisfaction.” Do the lunar base/flat tax medley if you want, but at some point you’ve got to make the people happy and play your anthem . . . Here’s the obligatory link to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which would give The One plenty of political cover if Gingrich really did balk at the usual format. I’m curious, though: Does he mean he’d accept a moderator so long as it’s not someone from the media or is he still dead set on the seven three-hour Lincoln/Douglas debates that the White House will never, ever agree to? He told Jake Tapper yesterday on “This Week” that he did poorly against Romney in the Florida debates because “You cannot debate somebody who is dishonest. You just can’t. The people say I’m a good debater. I can’t debate somebody who won’t tell the truth.” Good thing Obama’s not dishonest.

“Obama’s not dishonest?”

“Forget it, he’s rolling.”

Come to think of it, at a moment like this, Newt Gingrich probably could really rally his troops by offering a version of Bluto’s rallying cry speech from Animal House. [Language warning at that link.]

Hey, what’s this lying around complaining about Romney’s ads stuff?

Romney’s SuperPACs dropped the big one! It’s over!

What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans drew up their Tripartite Act solidifying an alliance with the Japanese in advance of the Pearl Harbor attack, believing that any Japanese conflict with the United States would tie down the Americans in the Pacific and leave Britain profoundly, fundamentally, frankly dangerously exposed? Heck no!

And it ain’t over now! ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough . . . the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go! What the heck happened to the American conservative movement I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, Newt-o, we might get in trouble.’ Well just kiss my Freddie Mac from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this!

Oh, yes. There’s a bit of Belushi in Gingrich.


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