“I’ve Got a Lot to Lose and I’m Betting High So I’m Begging You…”

“…Before it ends, just tell me where to begin.”

With apologies to Fiona Apple, at least three of the candidates in tonight’s GOP debate are probably humming the Criminal lyrics right now as they do their final debate prep.  What’s at stake tonight for Speaker Gingrich, Governor Romney and Senator Santorum is nothing less than their chance to become the Republican nominee. Should be worth tuning in.

Lest you think I exaggerate, consider the state of play for each of our doughty soldiers who are still marching toward the fall battle with Team Obama.

Newt Gingrich.  The former speaker needs desperately to recapture some of the lightning in a bottle that helped him win the South Carolina primary after two strong debate performances.  Failure to deliver tonight means that Georgia – the Speaker’s mountain redoubt, his last bunker – is almost certainly lost.  Without Georgia, the case for a Gingrich candidacy is non-existent even to Sheldon Adelson (and Mr. Adelson, if you’re reading, feel free to drop that $100 million off at my house; I’ll burn it – most of it anyway – in the back yard just as colorfully as Newt can do it).

Mitt Romney. A bad debate performance tonight and Governor Coiffure can take the next 6 days off because he’ll have lost Michigan and – possibly – Arizona as well.  Most polls have Santorum up in Michigan (albeit with the margin of error) and closing in Arizona.  This is just the latest in a series of bad news moments for Romney that include getting swept two weeks ago in three state contests, being out-fundraised and having members of the Republican establishment (Mike DeWine for example) jumping ship or are sitting on their hands.  He’s been off-message so long while fighting fires about his relations with conservatives, his lack of connection and authenticity and more that I doubt he knows what his message is supposed to be at this point. Lose Michigan and/or Arizona and Romney loses the only things that got him here in the first place – a shitload of money and some unfocused perception that his winning was inevitable – are gone.

Rick Santorum. Senator Sunshine needs a strong debate performance as well, both to prove that he’s got more staying power than his predecessors as leader of the “I’m Not Mittt” club and to walk back some of his wacky moments over the last couple of weeks.  You know, things like Satan is undermining America, it would be legal to stop the sale of birth control products, Protestants – and the President – are outside mainstream Christian values, public schooling is obsolete, prenatal testing is form of eugenics. Stuff that probably couldn’t  get majority support from the House GOP caucus.  Failure to do so means that the tide has crested and what we’re seeing is the bathtub ring of his candidacy.

I’m popping an extra-big bowl of popcorn.

– Austin

PS – No, I didn’t forget about Ron Paul, just don’t care.  He’s in it no matter what, he still has no chance of winning, tonight he’ll once again be treated like Uncle Teddy in Arsenic & Old Lace whereby the moderators will every once in a while throw him a question just so he can talk about San Juan Hill or digging the Panama Canal or whatever it is we should be doing under his worldview.

42 thoughts on ““I’ve Got a Lot to Lose and I’m Betting High So I’m Begging You…”

  1. Ellen says:

    Live blog! Live blog!

    Actually, Austin, what if Ron Paul ends up being nominated because he is the last man standing (on the hill, if you insist)? I’ve read polls that say he has the highest likability quotient of Romney or Gingrich; Santorum wasn’t in that poll. My theory being one could end up nominated because everyone else is beaten down by all the others.

    Live blog! Live blog!

  2. Ellen says:

    Santorum: Passive-aggressive, much? 7:31
    Newt: Reminding people of when he was SofH is a bad move, imho.
    Lots of cheers and jeers.
    Ron Paul on Congress: “They’re all messed up.” Ha ha.

  3. Ellen says:

    Romney just lost Michigan. He’s trying to explain why “managed bankruptcy” would have been good for the auto industry. 7:39

  4. PM says:

    The Mittster is really good at splitting hairs–trying to get out of Obamneycare issue. I don;t think that he is doing it successfully.

  5. PM says:

    loved the point Paul made viz. Santorum–the pill does not cause sexual activity–similar to point about guns don’t kill people.

  6. PM says:

    Loved Ron Paul on the borders–stop worrying about borders in Iran and Iraq which will give us the $$ to deal w/ borders here.

  7. PM says:

    Newt seems listless tonight–just sort of leaning back in his chair, relaxed, taking it as it comes. I can almost imagine him with a beer in his hand…..

  8. PM says:

    Define yourself using one word?

    this is really demeaning to all of them. In some ways, I feel sorry for these guys.

  9. Ellen says:

    I was appreciating the commercial break, until I saw Jan Brewster. What an awful thang. What do you think of John King as moderator? I say doing a good job.

  10. PM says:

    Here comes war with Iran…..

    King is good–clearly in charge, keeping them on the straight and narrow.

    dirty bombs in the US?

  11. PM says:

    Ron Paul is the only one to have served in the US military.

    surprise, surprise, surprise (as that famous marine, Gomer Pyle, used to say)

  12. Ellen says:

    Right, PM. I looked it all up too. Mitt Romney: never served. Newt Gingrinch: draft deferment during Vietnam. Mitt Romney: never served.

    Ron Paul: USAF flight surgeon; then, signed with Air National Guard.

    I am liking Paul’s answers tonight, too.

    1. Ellen says:

      Or Saddam Hussein. Or the pirates who twice ran afoul of our Navy Seals. Repubs do not have a good argument here.

  13. PM says:

    Invade Syria and Iran?

    Ron Paul is right — this is what caused the fall of the USSR–maybe the best thing that Reagan did (or charlie Wilson, if you prefer). And these twits want us to make the same mistake? Doubled?

  14. Ellen says:

    Bruce: You’re a great student of history. Wasn’t it always considered un-presidential for presidential candidates to grovel for votes? These four (or three out of the four) are not doing any favors for themselves.

  15. PM says:

    OK, final thoughts:

    Newt was uninspired and flat

    Mitt was so so. nothing new tonight, just more of the same.

    Santorum did well–seemed to be on a level w/ Mitt–his equal. That is a strong showing for him.

    Paul was just as he has always been–smart, on topic, and iconoclastic. And i doubt that Republicans are ready to listen to him..

    Meh.

  16. PM says:

    When Romney refused, point blank, to answer the question he was asked, he seemed to only aggravate the perception that he is better than everyone else–special, privileged, arrogant.

    Somehow, when Reagan did that with Bush 1 (“I paid for this microphone”) it went over a lot better.

  17. Ellen says:

    I’m serious now: If Bruce Benidt could get ahold of Ron Paul, bring him down to Florida, get Paul some sun and exercise — well, BB could be a king maker. (But I don’t want BB to change Paul into an automaton like the others.)

    And about the Sadie Hawkins dance, we might be able to sneak on in some of pappy’s moonshine.

    1. PM says:

      Moonshine, eh? I did have some Irish potato moonshine once–if it is anything like that, I’ll pass (but I’ll try anything once)

  18. Dennis Lang says:

    I don’t know, my already pitiful sense of civic responsiblity just can’t get aroused by these candidates sparring endlessly. I’ve likely regressed to nihilism or something. But a little glib repartee in real time makes for a fun read–after the fact. BTW Ellen not that it matters of course but in inviting PM to the dance, have we ever determined PM is actually a guy?

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        It doesn’t of course. I prefer the image of PM, the Cowd’s most frequent, enduring and eloquent guest, as a youthful Grace Kelley–particularly fetching in the Hitchcock classic, “To Catch a Thief”.

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