South Carolina debate analysis: Winners and Losers
The South Carolina debate on Monday was very interesting to say the least. Newt Gingrich was by far the best debater, and solidified his standing as the most viable alternative to Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney was asked a question from someone on Twitter about why they should support him if he has had so many changing positions on some of the most important issues of the day. Despite the fact that Romney’s position while running for the Senate in Massachusetts was that a woman should have the right to choose, he stated that he was a “Pro-life governor”. He then proceeded to shift the subject to attacks on President Obama. He stated that the President “wants us to be an entitlement society, and one that is similar to a European society and welfare state”. The fact that Romney didn’t adequately answer a question about his flip flops only ensures that it will continue to be a drag on his campaign and his candidacy. Many Americans are rightly concerned with an individual who seems to have no core, and who changes positions as it suits him.
The issue of South Carolina voting laws came up during the debate as well. Rick Perry had the most boisterous response to the question. He described the fight that states like South Carolina and Texas are having with the federal government as a war. He claims that states are under “assault” from the federal government. He also attacked the NLRB controversy that has been playing out in South Carolina. The NLRB filed a labor complaint against Boeing Inc, after they decided to move part of its production operation from Washington to “right to work” South Carolina.
Releasing tax returns
One issue that has been dogging Romney is the fact that he has yet to release his tax returns. Gingrich and Perry have both urged Romney to release his tax returns, but he has yet to do so. When asked a question by one of the moderators about releasing his tax returns, his answer left much to be desired. His awkward response to that question is shown in the link below:
I found it interesting that when asked what he would do specifically to appeal/get Hispanic Americans vote, Romney spoke in general terms. He made sure to say “Hispanics, and all Americans”. I think that he didn’t give a specific answer for a specific question because he doesn’t have one. Now that he has chosen to embrace a hard line view on immigration, his appeal to Hispanics is fading fast, and he knows it.
Romney stated that he wanted to follow the rule of law as it currently relates to immigration policy. He stressed the fact that he “loves legal immigration”, but would not approve of any illegal immigration. He mostly stuck to the “protect our borders, and think nothing of individuals already in the county” view that many on the far right have.
The debate really took a dramatic turn when some of the questions brought up race. Rick Santorum advocated marriage counseling and abstinence classes being inserted back in schools. His view was that this would stem the tide of single mothers, poverty, and other issues impacting the African American community.
The debate really got interesting when Juan Williams began his questioning of Newt Gingrich on some of the inflammatory statements he has made in the last few weeks. Gingrich repeated his often criticized term “The food stamp President”. Gingrich knows that this kind of sly and discreet racial politics will play very well in a state like South Carolina. He drew wild applause from the audience with a few of his responses to Williams:
Ron Paul normally gets either applauded or soundly booed by audiences when he discusses this topic at debates. I can say with 100% percent honesty that the latter occurred. When Paul suggested that America shouldn’t do things in other countries that we wouldn’t want done here, he sparked round displeasure from the crowd. Paul also expressed support and confidence in civilian courts prosecuting terrorists. He felt that our judicial system has been doing a great job of prosecuting terrorists such as those in Al Qaeda. He commented that 162 of the 260 individuals in Al Qaeda have been convicted and sent to prison.
Rick Perry went completely off topic when asked a question about what policies he would propose to fix the housing market and assist many struggling homeowners. He began to discuss the flat tax, ending regulation, lowering taxes, and getting people working. It is a strategy often used by Perry to mask the fact that he’s utterly clueless when tasked with explaining his position on policy. This only hurts him further, giving the specific impression that he has no ideas or solutions for many of the pressing policy issues that a President would face.
I think that Newt Gingrich was the clear winner of the debate. He was very strong and assertive in his responses to all of the questions posed to him at the debate. He was specific when he needed to be, while at the same time throwing some red meat to the crowd. Mitt Romney’s performance was average at best, but it more than likely won’t hurt him enough to allow a Gingrich surprise victory on Saturday in South Carolina.