The dullest in a while, and maybe of the lot. NBC asked the crowd to keep quiet, and so there was no mad rapturous applause for Newt’s pandering, and just a general aura of flatness came to dominate the atmosphere.
If that was the cost of decent debate, fair enough. But it wasn’t. On foreign policy, the questioner asked the candidates to hypothesise a situation in which refugees flocked to Cuba (clearly an issue close to Floridian hearts), and all of a sudden Santorum, Gingrich and Romney managed to slyly descend into talking as if Cuba was the Next Big Thing in waiting: the replacement for the USSR and now Iran, once they’ve finished that latter new war. Gingrich out-pandered them all by talking of invasion. The most crazy moment came when Romney tried to crowd-please by saying Castro meeting his maker would be a great moment (and it worked; one of the only outbreaks of applause). And then before we knew it Gingrich was even disputing Mitt on that point, noting Castro would in fact be far away from God in hell, not heaven, to even greater applause. I shit you not.
Mitt had a few moments where Newt was on the back-foot, but nothing felt like a killer blow to stop the surge. And his Obama-hatred continues. He couldn’t even talk about fucking space exploration and NASA without slagging off Obama and talking about his lack of vision for the country.
Oh, and when they got onto tax policy, Mitt pointed out to Newt that under the latter’s plans for 0% capital gains rates, Mitt would not have paid a dime on his $24m income last year. Gingrich just nodded, and gave some kind of rationalisation to do with the fact that Mitt’s creation of jobs justifies it. Sigh. I couldn’t work out why Mitt pointed this out, except perhaps to note the absurdity of Newt’s plan, not realising the status quo in which he pays 15% is hardly less absurd.
I doubt this will change things. From RCP:
Ignore the average. Note only the latest, from Insider Advantage, was conducted after last week’s debates, and it fits perfectly with the soaring Newt narrative. Expect a few more to confirm the trend. I can’t see last night having changed anything. And when the CNN debate arrives on Thursday and the loud crowd is back, Newt will surely cement his lead and ensure pandemonium follows.
Anyway, tweet of the night: