Wow, do these candidates have it in for Romney; the whole field seems
to be jumping on the bandwagon of trying to end Romney's campaign as
quickly as possible. What message to New Hampshire voters get when
every single candidate on stage, from McCain to Huckabee to Thompson to
Giuliani and Paul have beefs with Romney. How does Romney win this
nomination when he's got opponents so vehemently against him? As I
said before, McCain and Romney are in a single elimination tournament
in New Hampshire; loser goes home and the field knows that they
probably can't win a 1-on-1 with Romney because of his resources but
Romney will be basically toast on Wednesday if he loses to McCain,
particularly if he loses by a lot. He'd be the first Massachusetts
favorite son to lose the New Hampshire presidential, I believe, ever.
Romney tried to be the conciliatory candidate on that stage but he
seemed to be taken aback by the attacks from, well, everyone. Tomorrow
is it for him; maybe; will he come loaded for bear on his opponents or
will he once again decide to stay above the fray. If I were in his
shoes, I guess I'd choose above the fray because apparently if he
attacks, there will be some other candidate willing to push back at
him. It may not be a fair fight but who said politics was fair.
Both Huckabee and Thompson took cheap shots at Romney. Maybe Ed Rollins
is right, nobody likes Romney; at least nobody on that stage. And
then Romney struggled a bit defending his health care plan and has
that awkward soundbite of "I like mandates." Ronald Reagan would be
rolling in his grave over that one.
Obviously, what's bad for Romney is good for McCain; He was fine but showed his tempermental side with some of those digs at McCain. Still, McCain had to be lovin' it that he had Thompson and Huckabee getting his back against Romney.
Speaking of Huckabee, it wasn't as dominating of a performance for him as in previous debates. He seemed awfully aggressive early on with Romney as if he just couldn't wait to help McCain defeat him. Huckabee, btw, got himself in a flip-flop on the troop surge. He said he supported it but his foes found video of him showing Huckabee admit, "I'm not sure that I support the troop surge..."
Giuliani seemed fine but repetitive; He just seemed like he wasn't part of the conversation or at least didn't offer up anything new, compared to previous debates. Why again, though, did Giuliani skip New Hampshire; this should have been his breakout state. We'll see, the field's getting muddled for him and that could help later this month.
Then there's Thompson; he seemed comfortable in that chair and he loved going after Romney; The guy's a great commentator and being seated allowed to play that role well. You think he's comfortable knowing that he's got a mission now? Stopping Romney for McCain?
As for Paul, the candidates used him as a punching bag early on which seemed like old news. Paul then disappeared later in the debate.
Closing note: Was Obama also one of the winners? Huckabee made as good of a case for Obama as if he were a future surrogate.