The more I think about it, the more I think last night’s quiet debate reflected that each one of the Big Four feels comfortable about where they are. (And at least two, maybe three shouldn’t.)
Mitt Romney looks at the polls showing him gaining ground in Florida, some having him in first place, and played ball control last night. He’s probably also figured out that going negative didn’t do him much good in Iowa and New Hampshire.
John McCain knows he’s sitting pretty, that the polls that don’t have Romney in first have him in first, that he’s in good shape in most of the Super Duper Tuesday states, and that he, too, had more to lose than to gain from going negative on anyone.
Rudy Giuliani must see the polls that have him losing ground, but he knows his campaign has made a hard push to reach out to every transplanted New Yorker in the state. They’ve had the most time to prepare their get-out-the-vote operation. He sees Hillary inching back into the lead in the Democratic race, and relished jabbing her and the Democrats in almost every one of his answers. No point in going negative on his GOP rivals when there’s a Democrat to go negative on.
Mike Huckabee knows that his slice of the Florida electorate is smaller than the other guys’, but it’s not nothing, and he’s already assured that for at the next four years, he will be President of Evangelical America. Any one of the other guys will have to at least consider him as their running mate (except Romney) and so why go negative, other than an attempted joke about Romney spending his sons’ inheritance?
And perhaps even Ron Paul realized last night that he’s in a Republican primary, and has to win over Republican votes, and thus it was better to criticize the modern Republican party in the generic sense, and not his rivals…