Memo to Republican Party... if you can't get real candidates, running the comic relief team instead is just insulting. You made no effort at all. Now your minions run around telling everyone in sight the least of the four is a better choice than Obama.
Cast of Characters: Mittens, played by Mitt Romney; Ricky, played by Rick Santorum; Th' Nooter, played by Newt Gingrich and Ron, played by himself, Ron Paul.
A better choice than Obama? Really? These four?
An hour into the debate, held in Arizona, the state that is arguably the strike-plate fault epicenter of the national immigration debate, THIS debate had yet to mention immigration as a topic. No one has asked a single immigration question, and none of the candidates has raised the issue. This little touch of the surreal defines, in a negative sort of way, this last debate before Super Tuesday. The originally scheduled "Last Republican Debate" was cancelled by CNN when Mittens and Ricky said they wouldn't be there. This version is being held during a seven-state mass primary spread across February between the first five and the last two states' primaries.
Mittens grew up in Michigan but he is running behind Ricky there. However, he may be catching up to Rickey. Rickey somehow stole a march on Mittens while Mittens was celebrating his caucus win in Maine, which he may yet lose to Ron Paul when the recount results are announced March 10. In both Michigan and Maine the caucuses bind no one at the convention, so the caucus winner may not ultimately take home a majority of the delegates from the convention. However, Mittens is projected to win Arizona.
Back to the debate... There was a garbled exchange among all the candidates on the contraceptive insurance issue. But the debate devolved into silly comments about contraceptives "encouraging promiscuity," a statement that was met with waves of audience apathy. This absurdity was followed by a discussion of earmarks in budgets that devolved into a "my earmarks were justified but yours weren't" between Ricky and Th' Nooter.
In an exchange with Mittens on taxes on the wealthy, Th' Nooter managed to intone the Republican mantra "Class Warfare" a half dozen times in less than two minutes. And Th' Nooter and Mittens targeted Ricky for every shot they could come up with. Ricky has climbed out of the back bench, relegating Th' Nooter to that bench and Mittens is frankly scared. There were several two- and three-way exchanges with Ricky being talked over and verbally pounded while the audience booed and CNN moderator John King let them "just play."
Ron Paul seemed to be pretty much an afterthought, which often seems the case in these Republican events, since he is not one. Finally, he was asked by the moderator why he had called Santorum "a fake."
"Because he's a fake," Paul fired back, and said no more.
Santorum eventually chimed in with, "I'm real." To which Ron Paul sneered, "Congratulations."
Little to nothing was learned, and no one's mind was changed. The GOP candidates would be well advised to stop sniping about the small stuff and start actually debating tax and deficit reduction strategy.
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