To satisfy America's bloodlust for pallid men in funeral attire yelling at each other, the GOP presidential candidates faced off in two debates, twelve hours apart, ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. At last night's ABC debate at St. Anselm, frontrunner Willard Romney was content to let Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich claw each other's eyes out. But at this morning's NBC/Lunesta debate his rivals came to their senses and with the help of Romney's inability to relate to anyone other than T-1000, attempted to tear down his commanding lead in the polls.
In a nod to his obscene wealth, Romney told the audience this morning that his father, once the governor of Michigan, advised him to "never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage." Romney also noted that he was "happy" that he forced former Senator Ted Kennedy to take out a mortgage in his 1994 Massachusetts Senate campaign.
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His assertion that he didn't have a "ghost of a chance" of winning is also dubious. Would someone who believed he had no chance of winning in Massachusetts print these pink flyers? Does this sound like a man resigned to defeat?
Romney also hilariously asserted that he hadn't seen his SuperPAC's ads against Gingrich, before rattling off the talking points of the very ad he claimed not to see.
But Gingrich has little room to complain: he called the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision a "great victory for free speech," and his own super PAC just received a $5 million donation. Gingrich's operatives at Winning Our Future have also produced a 27-minute film called King of Bain. Guess what it's about?
Will any of this affect Romney's comfortable lead in New Hampshire and steady momentum in South Carolina? Santorum, who bore the brunt of withering, mainly valid attacks from Ron Paul last night, may be able to dent Romney's stature in South Carolina, and Jon Huntsman could be poised to place second in New Hampshire. If there's any certainties, is that if you give Rick Perry a second chance, he WILL remember three things. And he would, uh, bring our troops back to Iraq.