Another Republican presidential debate occurred, this time in Arizona, ahead of primaries in Arizona and Michigan. After that will be "Super Tuesday". This was perhaps the last Republican debate, depending on what happens in the next couple of weeks.
First, Mitt Romney did get a couple of brownie points with me at the very beginning. He was not done with his opening statement, but received applause, so he decided to stop. He said he would take a lesson from George Costanza (a Seinfeld reference for anyone unfamiliar) and stop with the audience applause. This was in reference to a Seinfeld episode where George learned that after he told a joke and got a good reaction from the crowd, it was just better to exit on a high note. I don't know if this was planned by Romney, but it at least made him a little bit human and his line was probably well appreciated by Seinfeld fans.
Aside from that, Romney had an average night. He took some heat as usual, but he was fairly steady. He didn't say anything that will make any dramatic headlines. He didn't pull any Rick Perry moments of major blundering.
The same can be said for Gingrich. He had a decent night. He was better than he was in the Florida debates, but worse than the South Carolina debate. However, he may gain some traction at the expense of Rick Santorum.
While there was no clear winner (even though Ron Paul is far superior with his ideas, I am trying to be somewhat objective here), Santorum was clearly the big loser. He took heat from all sides.
Ron Paul took Santorum to school. Near the beginning, Paul pointed out that Santorum is like the typical politician who campaigns on something in particular, but then does something different while in office. He used the example of "No Child Left Behind", which Santorum voted for while in Congress, but now says he regrets. Paul pointed out that Santorum is inconsistent. He was very effective in exposing Santorum's record of supporting big government.
I was actually getting excited about Santorum's momentum. It was slowing down Romney. I was also wondering if it was possible if Santorum could somehow snag the nomination. I would like to witness the biggest landslide in American history. If the economy doesn't fall off a cliff in the next 9 months, Obama might be able to win every single state in the general election against Santorum.
There was not much new on foreign policy. All of the candidates are pro-war, except for Ron Paul. There was one interesting part where Paul said that he had already tried the moral argument and constitutional argument, so now he would make an economic argument. He is certainly correct that there is a strong economic argument to be made against war. However, I'm not sure that he has exhausted the moral arguments as much as he can. I will have more to say about this, probably in a couple of weeks.
In conclusion, I think Santorum was the loser tonight. We'll see if others agree. I actually hope I am wrong. I want to see this thing drag out. The longer it drags out, the longer we get to hear a message of liberty and peace from Ron Paul.