Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt as Lazarus? Romney as Dukakis?

Good morning. Welcome to O-Pinion, the Observer editorial board's online center for commentary, discussion and debate. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono and I'll be your host for today.

The political buzz is still about how South Carolina scrambled the Republican presidential race, giving former House Speaker Newt Gingrich his first win. And now for the first time "since the modern primary system began," notes USA Today, "the GOP has a trio of victors from the early contests: Rick Santorum in Iowa, Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and Gingrich in South Carolina."

So many are looking to Florida, the next primary state, to be the tie-breaker. It still looks like the nomination is former Massachusetts Gov. Romney's to lose. He's still most well-financed candidate and the one many people believe has the broadest appeal to be able to beat President Obama but given his debate performance lately, his tone-deafness on some issues such as his tax returns and his middling poll numbers, he could fritter away his advantage.

Speaking of his tax returns, how difficult could it have been for Romney to say quickly and decisively what most people wanted to hear during the S.C. debate? That he would release his tax returns, as many other candidates have done or said they would do. Now that his reluctance has ratcheted up the calls, and seeing how it affected him in the S.C. primary - some voters said it moved them to vote for Gingrich - he said Sunday on Fox News he would release last year's and his estimate for this year (that's far less than the multi-years people expected but it's a start).

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the still controversial Roe v. Wade decision allowing the right to an abortion. The issue hasn't dominated Republican politics during this campaign season as it has in the past. But it has come up, most explicitly when Rick Santorum has challenged the other candidates on their conservative bonafides on the issue during the recent S.C. debates. If you missed it, there was a particularly sharp exchange between Santorum and Ron Paul in last Thursday's debate.

Santorum said Paul had voted for "right to life" legislation only 50 percent of the time. Paul responded that he and Santorum “have a disagreement on how we approach” the issue of abortion. Paul explained that in his understanding of the Constitution, oversight of “almost all the problems” now encumbering the federal government is left to the individual states, including the issue of abortion. “I see abortion as a violent act,” Paul said with some passion, but explained that “all other violence is handled by the states — murder, burglary — those are state issues. Don’t try to say that I am less pro-life because I want to be particular about the way we [protect the unborn] and allow the states the prerogative....”

In the New American, writer Dave Bohon said "in challenging Paul on his pro-life record, Santorum was capitalizing on the trend in recent months to paint Congressman Paul as the least pro-life of all the Republican presidential candidates."

On Sunday, the Huffington Post reported President Obama affirmed his support of Roe on his blog: "We must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right."

The issue could likely loom large in the presidential race once the Republican nominee is chosen.

So, who will that nominee be? Florida may help untangle the puzzle. But there were was plenty of punditry over the weekend on why Gingrich came out on top in South Carolina.

George Will had this view on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" saying more about Mitt Romney than Newt Gingrich, calling Romney the Republican's Michael Dukakis.

Charles Krauthammer told Fox News Gingrich was like Lazarus: “But you know, you got Lazarus, except Lazarus only had to rise once. Gingrich has now risen twice, which makes you think there’s something going on here.” He said the Florida Primary is now up for grabs.

Asher Smith has this view in the Huffington Post: "Did Economic Populism Win South Carolina for Newt Gingrich."

Paul Hogarth has this take in San Francisco's alternative paper, Beyond Chron: "Why Progressives should be thrilled Newt won South Carolina."

J.D. Longstreet gives his opinion in "Was South Carolina a fluke?" in Right Side News.


Anonymous said...

The SC primary was a wakeup call for Romney. The Republican base is telling him there is a way for him to put this contest away early and for good. Newt is simply acting as point man for an army that wants to go on offense and stay that way until the despot in the White House is driven out. Romney must be Caesar...lead from the front with scarlet tunic in full display and the ranks close behind for full frontal assault. Romney needs to get away from the "squish" and become clear on the mission.

heavymetal said...

I will say that I enjoy the thought of a Gringrich/Obama debate.

Twodogz said...

Newt is the my choice because I think we need someone who was in Washington when it worked best and been in the private sector. Some say he is a good debater. Obama is a good debater also. Newt has more truth and knowledge on his side. More ideas that agree with the way I think. Towards the constitution and less Federal government. We have too many restrictions on ouselves now. My Grandfather used to tell me he didn't agree with seatbelt and helmet laws. Now we have way more bad drivers on the roads. Before such laws, it was "God's way of weeding out the weak." Does make some sense....
I hope Gingrich Newt'ers them again in this next debate.