The Best Line of the Debates

The best line of the weekend debates was Jon Huntsman’s retort to Mitt’s criticism of him for serving as Obama’s ambassador to China:  “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that.”

It will help Huntsman in New Hampshire, and he’s going home after that, so unlike Newtie or Perry or Santorum, Huntsman wasn’t trying to address South Carolina.

Jon Huntsman Is an Odd Duck

There’s just something a little off about Jon Huntsman.  I was thinking that when he spoke Mandarin at Saturday night’s debate and again at today’s debate when he was wearing a fuchsia tie.  He comes across as effete in a party that doesn’t do effete.

He got open-ended questions in both debates where he really got to say anything he wanted about himself and why he should be president.  It was like the college application essay where they invite you to tell them whatever you think they should know about you in making their decision.  He didn’t take advantage of those opportunities.  He did okay, he sounded smart, but he needed to make people really sit up and take notice.  I don’t think anyone did.

If you stand out only for suddenly bursting into our enemy’s language and the color of your tie, you’re losing.  He’s losing.  Even if he comes in third on Tuesday in New Hampshire, he has no rationale for heading to South Carolina.  The voters there aren’t going to see him as a not-Mitt, more as a mini-Mitt.


The Debate

I tuned in expecting to watch the Allied invasion of Normandy, and it was more like watching the French sitting around in cafes as the Germans marched through the Arc de Triomphe.

Mitt Romney handled the Bain stuff at the beginning very well, and from there on, it was smooth sailing for him.  He gave a great answer on leadership and a strong defense of free enterprise.  He said that he could understand the NYT and the Obama campaign attacking him for his role in the private sector, but not his fellow Republicans, so they shut up.

Newt Gingrich should have attacked Mitt on Bain’s record of bleeding companies and driving them to bankruptcy because they had been forced to borrow so much money to pay Mitt and other investors millions and millions, without bringing the NYT into it.

Newt and Ron Paul went after each other, which only helps Mitt.

This was the first time Rick Santorum got to stand next to Mitt (in previous debates he’s been on one far end or the other), and it didn’t help him.  He looked like the kid brother, he didn’t look like the president.

Mitt looked and sounded presidential throughout, no one put even the tiniest dent in his front-runner status.  Five other guys up there and no one could wound Mitt even a little?!  None of them deserves a shot at the nomination.

Huntsman Predicts an End to the Crazy

Martin Luther King believed the arc of history bends towards justice.  Jon Huntsman believes the arc of the Republican party bends towards sanity.

In an interview with Politico, Huntsman said, “I believe in…the cycles of history.  I believe we are in one such cycle.  I think that cycle ultimately takes us to a sane Republican Party based on real ideas.”

I think he’s hoping “ultimately” means in time for his 2016 campaign.

This Weekend Will Remind Mitt of 2008

When Mitt Romney ran in 2008, all the other candidates had one thing in common — they really couldn’t stand him personally.  Their dislike and contempt were palpable during the debates.

This time around, the debates haven’t had that negative vibe around him.  That will change with the debates this weekend.  Newt is mad as hell about the negative ads in Iowa, and Jon Huntsman is desperate.  Rick Perry is in New Hampshire only to debate, not to campaign, so he’s got to show the voters of South Carolina that he’s the best “not-Mitt.”  Rick Santorum will get more time than he’s ever gotten before, and he’s feeling like the co-front runner at the moment, so his target has to be the other front runner.

Some say voters are tired of watching these candidates debate, but the next two debates will have a completely different feel than all the previous ones.

The thing about plastic is that when it gets hot enough, it melts.


Jon Huntsman had endorsements from five New Hampshire newspapers and now he has the Boston Globe.

Saying that only Huntsman and Mitt Romney are presidential material, the endorsement opts for the former:  “But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold.  Rather than merely sketch policies he articulates goals and ideals.”

The Globe also calls Mitt on his dishonest attacks on President Obama:  “His attacks on Obama are so hyperbolic — the president favors European-style socialism, apologizes for America, doesn’t understand the vision of the Founding Fathers — that they say nothing about his own viewpoint; most likely, he’s trying to stir up enough dust to suggest a passionate denunciation of Obama without offering a disciplined critique or alternative course.”  Short version — Mitt’s a lying empty suit.

Mitt is also getting pummeled by the New Hampshire Union Leader, which has endorsed Newt Gingrich and hates Mitt’s guts.

Locked and Loaded for Mitt

Much attention is being paid to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreeing not to go after each other at the debates this weekend, but to direct their fire at Mitt Romney.

But it’s also worth noting that they won’t lay a finger on Jon Huntsman either.  They want to help him do as well in New Hampshire as he possibly can.

Huntsman is no threat to Newt or Santorum.  They see him as the useful guy who can help them dent Mitt’s armor by siphoning off some of his votes.  Mitt doesn’t just have to win New Hampshire, he has to win big, or he looks wounded and vulnerable.

Mitt would never pick Huntsman as his Veep.  We’re not going to have two Mormons.  But if one of the not-Mitts gets the nomination, Huntsman could get the nod.

South Carolina will be the real background to try to stop Mitt.  But if he arrives from NH limping a bit, all the better for the two Ricks and the one and only Newt.

A Different Dynamic in New Hampshire

In Iowa, Mitt Romney had the luxury of watching his rivals go after each other, while he (ok, his Super PAC that he would never, ever coordinate with) eviscerated Newt Gingrich.  That’s because they knew Mitt was getting one of the tickets out of Iowa, and they had to scramble among themselves for a remaining ticket.

We saw Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all go after Ron Paul.  We saw Rick Perry go after Rick Santorum on earmarks and raising the debt ceiling.

But now in New Hampshire, almost all the fire will be aimed at Mitt, plus whatever Jon Huntsman can muster, plus the Dems gleefully piling on.

The next week will be one of the most entertaining of the entire campaign.  Newtie would make a lousy president, but he’s a great showman (and showboat).  The two debates this weekend will be lots of fun (unless you’re Rick Perry).  Stock up on popcorn.

I almost feel sorry for Mittens.  Almost.

Here’s a Shock — Newt Loves Mirrors!

The NYT has a fun article up* about the Republican candidates’ houses as analyzed by interior designers and a design psychologist.

They liked Jon Huntsman’s federal-style townhouse in D.C. the best, so Huntsman has actually led in something this cycle, although it won’t get him any delegates.

Gingrich —  Describing his “5,206 square-foot stone mansionette” in McLean, Virginia, the story says “Newt Gingrich’s style tends t0 be ornate, and his home has no shortage of mirrors.”  The article also notes that his master bath has gold fixtures and a chandelier.  “But what struck designers most was how the house sits angled on a corner lot, as if to say, ‘Look at me.'”  Just like its owner!  The brick exterior is really, really cold and ugly.  The landscaping is very formal and high maintenance, with a lot of Marie Antoinettish topiary.

Bachmann — Describing her house in West Lakeland Township, Minnesota, the article focuses on its “unresolved” and “messed up” “grand manor roof,” saying that, “You know that what’s underneath is not a lot of clarity.”  Kind of like what’s beneath Bachmann’s hair.  The house really does look scatter-brained in the photo.

Romney — Discussing his house in Park City, Utah (since sold), it says that “Mr. Romney appears to take few risks in design.”  As in campaigning.  It calls the decor “pretentious but in kind of a predictable way.”  Just like him.

Santorum — As for his house in Virginia hunt country, the designers found it “a little off.”  As is he.  One said, “…the proportions are awful. … It’s a big rectangular box with holes punched in it for widows.  It doesn’t have much to say.  Need I say more?”

If I had to live in one of the houses, I would choose Huntsman’s, and he’s the one I’m voting for in the primary.



*”The Houses of the Hopefuls,” by Kate Zernike

Newtie’s Not Going for the Gold — Or Even the Silver or Bronze

Newt Gingrich seems to be suffering from the “soft bigotry of low expectations”  — from his own campaign!

His communications director, Joe DeSantis, told CNN it “wouldn’t be bad” if Newt finishes in the top five in Iowa.  Their internal polls must be hideous for him to say that.

So they’re expecting to lose to Romney, Paul, Perry, and Santorum?

Bachmann’s in the toilet, and Huntsman isn’t competing in Iowa.

Yes, it would be bad, it would be devastating and probably fatal.  I don’t see Newt coming back in South Carolina if he’s fifth in Iowa.