The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler


Posted on | February 22, 2012 | 47 Comments

10:05 p.m. ET: It’s over. I actually nodded off for a few minutes there. The important thing, I think, is that Santorum was in the cross-hairs all night, and didn’t really sustain any serious damage.

9:27 p.m. ET: Newt Gingrich talks Iran and Ahmadinejad.

9:25 p.m. ET: Santorum reminds us that we have civilian control of the military for a reason. He escapes damage on a question that was specifically aimed at him.

9:23 p.m. ET: Remember when “Your mother wears combat boots” was a put-down? I’m just sayin’ …

9:18 p.m. ET: Another commerical break.

9:12 p.m. ET: Newt talks about border control.

9:10 p.m. ET: Mitt is an E-Verify evangelical.

9:08 p.m. ET: Newt talks fences and illegal immigration.

9:04 p.m. ET: Santorum: “RomneyCare!” Romnney: “Arlen Specter!” That was good, wasn’t it?

8:58 p.m. ET: When Ron Paul accuses Santorum of voting for Planned Parenthood funding. Santorum explains that this was actually a vote for the appropriations bill for the entire Department of Health and Human Services.

8:56 p.m. ET: Newt Gingrich sounds an awful lot like Ron Paul on this “government coercion” stuff. So how come when Ron Paul says it, he’s treated like a radical extremist?

8:54 p.m. ET: Mitt Romney sounds an awful lot like Rick Santorum on this “family values” stuff. So how come when Santorum says it, he’s treated like a radical extremist?

8:50 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum name-checks Charles Murray and talks about out-of-wedlock births.

8:48 p.m. ET: Mitt defends the right of conscience against Barack Obama.

8:46 p.m. ET: CNN asks about contraception and gets booed. Newt takes on the elite media and gets cheered.

8:45 p.m. ET: We’re back from commercial, during which here in Ohio we saw another Rick Santorum commercial.

8:40 p.m. ET: Santorum defends himself, and then Newt slams UAW. So if you’re UAW . . . vote Santorum!

8:38 p.m. ET: Mitt slams the UAW.

8:36 p.m. ET: Rick rips Mitt on bailouts. Mitt begins his response, “First, let’s look at the facts.” Which means he’s about to lie.

8:32 p.m. ET: Newt just made Mitt look like an idiot.

8:28 p.m. ET: Mitt admits that he sought earmarks for the Salt Lake City Olympics, which he compares to the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

8:27 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum defends earmarking.

8:24 p.m. ET: Newt Gingrich takes a question and turns it into a lecture.

8:22 p.m. ET: Mitt Romney defends his claim to be a “severe conservative.”

8:20 p.m. ET: Santorum mentions this Weekly Standard article that defends his record as a fiscal conservative.

8:17 p.m. ET: John King lobs a softball to Ron Paul, inviting him to repeat his attack-ad arguments against Santorum.

8:16 p.m. ET: We’re a quarter-hour into the debate before Newt gets a chance to speak. He wants to balance the budget by opening federal lands to oil exploration.

8:14 p.m. ET: Santorum comes right back at Romney, which means Romney gets a chance to rebut.

8:12 p.m. ET: On his first question, Santorum draws cheers for saying he wants to end ObamaCare. Then it’s Mitt Romney’s turn, and he opens with attack-ad chatter against Santorum.

8:06 p.m. ET: National anthem sang by Arizona State University symphonic chorale. Classical, not all Whitney Houston-like.

8:04 p.m. ET: Moderator John King introduces the candidates. I heard a rumor today that the Romney campaign was trying to pack the audience with their supporters.

** PREVIOUSLY (7:31 p.m. ET) **

My brother-in-law just brought me a Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat, and I’m ready to live-blog tonight’s CNN Arizona debate, which Howard Kurtz previews:

When Santorum takes the stage Wednesday night, the glare of the spotlight will be unusually harsh.

CNN: Satan’s Cable News Network!

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin’s in Rick’s corner:

Look for the liberal CNN debate “moderators” tonight to force their frame around Santorum.
And look for Santorum to cheerfully cast off their narrow-minded narrative and do the same thing he’s done successfully to challenge Mitt Romney’s front-runner status:
Offer no apology for his social conservatism, while sticking to his core fiscal conservative attacks on the Obama White House . . .

Read the rest. I should perhaps explain why I’m in Ohio instead of Arizona. I got credentialed for the debate, and had hoped to fly out, but transportation plans fell through. So I decided instead to drive to Michigan, and stopped here at my wife’s sister’s house for the night, where the debate blogging will begin at 8 p.m.

UPDATE II: Steve Eggleston has details of today’s Wisconsin poll showing Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney by 16 points.

BTW, in the past 15 minutes here in Ohio, I’ve seen two Rick Santorum ads on CNN.

UPDATE III: Barbara Espinosa is at the debate in Mesa. This is the 20th nationally televised Republican debate and may very well be the last this year.


47 Responses to “CNN ARIZONA DEBATE”

  1. richard mcenroe
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    So who will be more annoying tonight, CNN or the Mitt News Network formerly known as Fox?

  2. Gonzo Live-Blogging Of Tonight’s CNN GOP Debate « The Camp Of The Saints
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

    […] Stacy McCain is live-blogging the debate from his brother-in-law’s house in Ohio. […]

  3. Multimedia Group
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    That weekly standard column is devastating to the slime machines in the Romney and Paul camps. I always knew that Santorum was a fiscal hawk but hadn’t realized just how much of a staunch fiscal conservative he was while in Congress.

    In other words, “Santorum was a big-spender” is an outright lie and any GOP candidate that repeats it should not be rewarded for the slander.

  4. No Runny Eggs » Blog Archive » Marquette Law School Poll – Santorum leads the WI Primary, Obama leads significantly in the general
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

    […] part 2 (8:19 pm 2/22/2012) – Many thanks to Stacy McCain for linking in his liveblog of the debate tonight. [Comments (3)]  [link]  […]

  5. smitty
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

    Rick is doing fine in this debate. Anyone who knows much of how DC operates can tell that he’s as flexible as necessary without compromise on principle.

  6. Dana
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    My mother did wear combat boots, and both of my daughters wear combat boots.  ‘Twas never an insult to me!

  7. richard mcenroe
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

    Deborah Leigh guesting here. Stacy, I was proud to wear combat boots as did my mother. Ron Paul couldn’t fill my mother’s boots, combat or cowgirl.

  8. richard mcenroe
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    And just for a little perspective, she wore those boots while helping the army develop the drone and thermal-imaging technology that kicked Haji’s ass, AND while she was driving 5-ton trucks up snow-covered mountains in CENTAG.

  9. ThePaganTemple
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    Newt won. 

  10. GOP CNN Debate 2-22-12: Live Blogging GOP Debate | Maggie's Notebook
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

    […] That’s it. It’s over. Stacy McCain also live-blogged. Check it out here. […]

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    Rick did fine.  So did Mitt.  A tie means this thing is not going to decisively change things  I would guess Rick does good in most of the states he is doing well in.  Mitt probably retains Michigan.  

  12. ThePaganTemple
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

     He damn sure didn’t look flexible. It’s not that his answers were bad, on average, its that even when he gave good answers he looked and acted like an old Timex that has been wound waaaaaay too tight.

  13. Pathfinder's wife
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    Thanks (I still have a couple of pairs…).

  14. libertyftw
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

     Ad hominem attacks against a guy that legitimately cares about your life and the life of your mother.   Swing and a miss, kiddo…

  15. smitty
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    Newt did well, but I don’t know about ‘won’.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

    Man … that was awful. I’ve tried to display some equanimity across most of these debates, but the foreign policy part of this one was just so over the top that it spiked my blood pressure by about 50 points.

    On horserace grounds, I think Newt probably did win, but it wasn’t a juggernaut-style “pyramid of my opponents’ skulls” win.  He mostly just got some good lines in while Santorum and Romney tried to maul each other.

  17. CO
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

    Newt, less is more, won the debate hands down.
    Santorum took a bad turn.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

    Santorum had a few bad moments — on Title X and earmarks, mostly. Of the three with a shot at the nomination, he has the most to lose on any appearance of hypocrisy. But he also kicked a considerable amount of sand in Romney’s face on the earmark thing.

    I’d say it was a wash, at worst, for Santorum.

    Newt did well enough to be back in the game, at least a little. Whether he can build on that to get back on TOP of the game, who knows?

    Paul’s got his chosen cross to bear, and continues to bear it.

    Romney was the one who really needed to stomp the others’ asses tonight, and he never managed to get on a roll and do that.

  19. checkers
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    Hey, I read you from Granville.  Did not like the silence of the audience after the earmark defense..

  20. Pathfinder's wife
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    First time under the spotlight — he did ok (doing really well would have been better, but ok is better than imploding).  He made a good point in  his defense of supporting Specter (which is a hard sell, but it made sense and in light of the present situation of SCOTUS was perhaps a very wise thing to do). NCLB was a stumble imho — he has to start pivoting the social issues to other things, like the economy, and start making more foreign policy comments (he’s got strengths there that even he doesn’t realize).

    Gingrich did well (too bad for him, he had to detour like he did after SC); Paul had some good stuff until he got to foreign policy.Romney needed to do better, and he didn’t. Romneycare is going to kill him, among other things (and those are starting to show up more and more).
    Guy isn’t giving off a winning vibe at all anymore.

  21. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 12:59 am

    That is a good description Pagan.  

  22. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:00 am

    Newt did okay…but Rick Perry’s best debate performance was just before he dropped out.  And this was hardly Newt’s best performance.  

  23. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    I am sad to say Donald Trump made more sense about foreign policy talking after the debate.  And that is not saying a lot.  

  24. Thane_Eichenauer
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:02 am

    I watched the debate on the inflate-o-tron outside the Mesa Art Center and I recall Santorum saying that he got title 20 funding for abstinence instruction added to the appropriations bill.  How is that not the act of a big-spender?

  25. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:04 am

    I missed a few parts, so maybe I missed Newt shining.  I thought he did okay.  I thought it was mostly a back and forth between Romney and Santorum.  Ron Paul contributed more (if only as a foil) than Newt did.  

  26. Adjoran
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:25 am

     I agree . . . what color is the moon tonight?

  27. Adjoran
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:31 am

     Much better after a couple shaky outings, but I don’t think Newt did enough to reverse the trends in the race, which is what he needed.  Santorum didn’t take the opportunity he had, either.

    Now it is up to the voters, in Michigan and Arizona and on Super Tuesday.  If Romney wins both next Tuesday and does well enough the next week, I doubt he will attend any more debates. 

  28. Adjoran
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:37 am

    The consensus of the conservative sites seems to be that it was a bad night for Santorum.

    It seemed to me he was more on the defensive – looked to be the more comfortable one most of the night.  The thing about the VP deal with Ron Paul came off as a bit paranoid, but maybe he gets that from his supporters?

  29. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:20 am
  30. Mike Rogers
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:56 am

    Exhibit a the similar ads against newt when he was up in the polls.
    Exhibit b the similar ads against Santorum whenever he looked threatening.
    Exhibit c Paul stays away from CPAC and does not bus in hundreds of supporters to win the straw poll, but Mitt does.
    Exhibit d Mitt and Paul pull out of March 1st debate, thus depriving Newt and Rick of a platform where they have been doing well lately.
    Unholy alliance between ‘wrinkles’ and ‘satan’ anyone??
    Ron Paul cannot win.
    Mittens cannot win unless the vote is split.
    Sec Treasury post for sale???

  31. ThePaganTemple
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 6:56 am

    Stop trying to spin. Santorum did awful relative to what he needed to do, and he knew it. When he was standing there with his wife, son and daughter during a post debate interview on CNN, I felt sorry for his daughter. She was trying to put on a brave face, trying to smile, but looked like she was going to break down and cry any second. His son looked like he wanted to rip the interviewer’s head off.

    Title XX? I mean, come on, REALLY? TITLE FUCKING XX?

  32. A Stephens
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 7:56 am

    Romney had a decent night, but in my view that’s with a low bar for the most part because I personally expect so little from him.

    Newt was effective in limited opportunities.

    Santorum was disappointing for me. I have high expectations for him.  He had gotten better as the season has gone on.  This is his first major hiccup and I will be looking for him to learn from it and continue to improve.  He needs to focus on being comfortable with the spotlight and heat that comes from being the lead dog and not get thrown off his game quite so easily as he did last night.  I will say the 2nd hour was much better than the 1st for him. 

    None of these guys has handled “frontrunner” status coming into the debate very well.  Interestingly we want people to be genuine and unscripted but this is why they typically get wooden in the spotlight, the risk of going into the ditch is too real.

  33. Did Obama lose the debate? « Don Surber
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    […] Santorum supporter Robert Stacy McCain: “It’s over. I actually nodded off for a few minutes there. The important thing, I think, […]

  34. Bob Belvedere
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:30 am

    There is hope that Mr. Santorum will learn from his experience last night, as he has done so before.  The RS of now is much better at speaking and articulating his ideas then the RS of several years ago – actually, he’s also much better than he was one year ago.

    If he realizes the flaws in his performance last night and makes changes, then he’ll survive just fine.

  35. Have the Deciders Decided? Examining the Post-Debate Examinations : The Other McCain
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    […] schedule at Fox News, as if they were delivering the Official Message.My general impression of last night’s debate was that Newt Gingrich had the best performance, and that Santorum escaped without any major harm. […]

  36. richard mcenroe
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    So if less Newt is better, would we have to paint over the WH windows?

  37. ThePaganTemple
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Afraid not. This might be the last debate, and it will certainly be the last one before the Michigan and Arizona primaries. If Mitt wins them its on to Super Tuesday and it will be Mitts to lose.

  38. richard mcenroe
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    A Paulie demonstrates their reading comprehension…

  39. Bob Belvedere
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    I’m not talking about just the debates, but interviews and speeches.

  40. A Stephens
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    The reason Santorum can recover is because, despite the large audience of a debate, he’s still best at connecting with the voters at the retail level.  With that focus on just the 2 states coming up he can put this performance behind him with at minimum, a split.  Sweeping 2, albeit with potentially longer odds to do so, would effectively remove last night from the conversation.  I’m anxious to see what he does with this opportunity.

  41. AngelaTC
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    But Santorum admits it.  

  42. richard mcenroe
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:33 am


  43. ThePaganTemple
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 11:38 am

     Maybe I’m overly critical, but I was hoping he would do well enough to increase his margin in Michigan and maybe even pull out Arizona. Now I just hope he can squeak by in Michigan, but that’s the most I feel is realistic to hope for.

  44. Erick Erickson, Santorum Consultant? : The Other McCain
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  45. Bob Belvedere
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    Good points.

  46. My Saturday Night in Hell : The Other McCain
    February 26th, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

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