Eeps! They’re doing it Again! Live Blog for Republican DebatePosted: February 22, 2012
Newt’s been oddly quiet. Romney is scrambling for funds and any sign of enthusiastic support from outside of the Republican Money Class. Paul picked up a big super pac donation from a really odd Louisianian. Then there’s Saint Rick of the Sexually Obsessed. He’s undoubtedly going to get the spotlight tonight as his completely crazy religious views have taken him to places that I doubt any one has one before. The establishment hates him but the crazy base thinks he’s just right. Afterall, his culture jihad got him thrown out of his senate position.
“Santorum’s job tonight is to quell fears about his general-election electability,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Taking on social issues to differentiate himself from [Newt] Gingrich and Romney is a good strategy, but it’s high risk. He’s been over-talking.”
Santorum’s first task, Mr. O’Connell says, is to take his strong views on social issues – a plus with the so-called “values voters” in the Republican base – and turn them into a discussion on limited government and strong families, not about telling individuals what to do. In recent days Santorum has been all over birth control, women’s role in society, and same-sex marriage.
Then there’s the story about his 2008 speech on how Satan was “attacking the great institutions of America,” now in its second day on the highly read Drudge Report. When asked about it Tuesday, Santorum didn’t disavow the remarks.
“I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil,” Santorum said in response to questions from CNN, host of the Wednesday night debate, which begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Then he added that he didn’t think the topic was relevant to today.
“What we’re talking about in America today is trying to get America growing. That’s what my speeches are about. That’s we’re going to talk about in this campaign,” said Santorum.
Meanwhile, Romney’s hoping his newly released tax plan will get some votes. I’m sure it won’t be from economists or people that like strong economies. Look for him to try to fit this in where he can. Well, that an some pointed jabs at Santorum.
Reducing the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent was a central point of an economic proposal Romney offered in September. The former Massachusetts governor’s plan, which would eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for individuals making $200,000 or less per year, came under criticism over a lack of details.
Romney suggested during a town-hall meeting in Shelby Township, Michigan, yesterday that he’d offer details.
“I’ll be coming out with some proposals of my own this week that describe how I cut, create more pro-growth tax policies,” Romney said. “I want to see a flatter, fairer, broader-based tax system.”
The Debate will be on CNN tonight at 8 pm EST. It’s being held not too far where my parents lived for awhile in Mesa Arizona.
Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, who’s producing CNN’s seventh debate this cycle, said the 8 p.m. face-off “comes at an important moment in the campaign” as tight races develop in Arizona and Michigan. And given the lack of debates since January, Feist said “there are a lot of topics that are likely to come up in this debate that, frankly, haven’t come up in the other debates.”
Feist wasn’t about to tip off the candidates about what moderator John King might throw their way, but social issues, which received increased media attention since the Florida debates, are expected to get some play.
It’s also possible that former senator Rick Santorum could be asked about his 2008 comments about Satan “attacking the great institutions of America,” which had a second life Tuesday thanks to The Drudge Report. When asked if the Satan comments could come up, Feist simply said that “nothing is off the table.”
The questions asked during the previous 20 debates this week came under scrutiny from New York University professor Jay Rosen and his students in the Studio 20 program, who studied all 839 of them. The students, working with The Guardian, found that 13 percent of the questions asked involved “campaign strategy and the way the candidates responded to each other’s negative ads.”
However, they noted that members of debate or online audiences asked zero questions about polls, flip-flops or negative ads, suggesting that journalists may be preoccupied by process-oriented questions that are of less interest to the public.
Feist said he found the study “interesting and valuable,” but quibbled with how the questions were categorized. “If you ask a candidate about a comment made in a negative ad, I don’t see that as campaign strategy,” Feist said. “I see that as a rare opportunity to have the candidate respond to the negative ads that the public has been inundated with.”
This will be last debate before Super Tuesday so look for every candidate to try to make high impact statements. Will they all play nice?