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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

GOP Debate in Tampa, Florida

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, commenting on the thirty point swing for Newt Gingrich in the Florida polls in recent weeks, said if "you get that in a patient, you pull out the Lithium". Yes, Republican voters have become quite emotionally motivated in their voting pattern this election cycle.

For those who proclaim that debates mean little in a political race, this primary has proved that reasoning to be quite false. Were it not for Newt Gingrich's stellar take down of CNN's John King in the last debate in Charleston, S.C. just two days before their primary, Mitt Romney would have likely maintained his lead and won that race. Gingrich piggybacked that debate win with the one a few days earlier in that week, the one held in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and he scored big points with voters there with his remark about jobs training and being a paycheck president, not a food stamps president. The crowds in both debates responded with standing ovations for Gingrich - a move rarely seen in these debates.

Monday night's debate in Tampa, Florida was preceded with the news that Gingrich has released his 2006 contract with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac that the Romney camp was calling for while Gingrich continued to hammer Romney over unreleased tax returns. Gingrich is still the only one to release his tax return and at that, has only released last year's return online during the last debate. Romney said he will release his tax return Tuesday. Frankly, I don't think it will be to anyone's surprise that Romney is a very wealthy man and that he tithes generously to his church.

The debate was moderated by NBC's Brian Williams and questions were also asked by a reporter from The Tampa Bay Times and National Journal, both co-sponsors of the event.

It was two hours we will never get back. To say it was a lackluster event is an understatement. By default, Mitt Romney is the winner. He did nothing to hurt himself and he can claim victory. He mentioned that he learned some lessons in South Carolina and would not be so strong about positive campaigning. He certainly didn't go lightly on Newt Gingrich Monday night.

Newt Gingrich was quite subdued. The audience was quiet with only one real applause line taken. He seemed to have the strategy to leave angry Newt at home and not be indignant against the media, either. He did continue his attacks against Mitt Romney. Gingrich found favorable things to say about Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, no doubt a nod to his desire for their supporters to eventually go with him.

Rick Santorum has a couple of decent answers - especially about Iran and about mortgages underwater - but he is just an unlikeable man. He comes off angry and defensive, whether he is feeling that or not.

Ron Paul said nothing new or memorable.

The debate was a snooze fest and should go down as an embarrassment to NBC News but it won't. There were little in the way of substantive questions. It was 33 minutes into the debate before a real question was asked. Up until then it was all about Brian Williams baiting Gingrich and Romney against each other on personal attacks. It was ridiculous and a huge waste of time.

Again, no questions on Fast and Furious, the violence on the Mexican/Texas border, school choice, education reform, energy policy or other pertinent matters facing our country.

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