Live Blogging the NBC/Tampa Times Florida Republican Presidential Primary Debate (FINAL)

Here is live blogging of tonight’s super-high-stakes Florida Republican Presidential Primary debate sponsored by NBC News, the Tampa Bay Times, National Journal and the Florida Council of 100. All attention tonight will be on the increasingly bitter — and politically crucial — battle between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the former front runner, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the current front runner. Romney finally agreed to release some tax returns but then demanded Gingrich release documents related to Gingrich’s work for Freddie Mac. And, in a nimble political move, Gingrich announced he’s releasing them. It’s make or break for Romney who has seen his “inevitability” and “electability” argument vanish. ”

My focus is on how the participants come across in the race and the possible impact on independent voters — who are not a monolithic group — rather than who I agree with or not. These are the reactions of an independent voter who has belonged to both parties. The most recent entry will be on top. There will NOT be entries on each question and comment. Only if it’s worth commenting on. Also: my actual conclusions are often NOT the same as my initial conclusions after a debate. The more I “digest” what I saw and heard, the more definitive my conclusions are. Here’s my initial reaction to the debate going on right now. You’ll also see some excerpts from live blogging from other sites. ALL TIMES ARE PST

MY REACTION: My reaction can totally change once I digest what I have seen. But immediate impressions:
ROMNEY: B or B+ better than in the last debate, but that wasn’t hard to do. Lots of content however sometimes doesn’t answer the question but goes to canned material.
GINGRICH: More low key. Doesn’t want to blow his lead. Trying to show he can be quiet. MSNBCers say it’s Gingrich now acting like a front runner and showing how he could be as a nominee. Weak on his lobbying response. B or B-
Santorum: Some good moments. B
Paul: C
OVERALL? Nothing occurred to halt Gingrich’s Big Mo.

7:55: Howard Kurtz has some interesting reaction. Here are a few chunks of it:

The two men probably fought to a draw, neither looking particularly good in the process. And that, on balance, helped Romney, since as the longtime front-runner his weaknesses are better known at this point. The only clear winner was Williams, who avoided the fate of John King and emerged unscathed….

Bad moment for Newt: Trying to explain that he asked House Republicans to vote to reprimand him for ethics violations in 1997 to put behind him a plot cooked up by “bitter” Democrats—and he paid $300,000 not as a fine but to cover the costs of the probe. Score one for Mitt for reminding voters of Gingrich’s tumultuous speakership.

Bad moment for Newt: Insisting that his $300,000-a-year Freddie Mac contract wasn’t as lucrative as it sounds because it only put $35,000 a year in his personal pocket—and defensively insisting he wasn’t lobbying. Score one for Mitt, who mocked the idea that Gingrich was hired as a historian (though Romney is incapable of making such jibes sound spontaneous).

Bad moment for Mitt: Drawing laughter from the audience when, after castigating Newt over the Freddie Mac largesse, he had to admit that Bain Capital’s profits on its contracts were “very substantial.” Score one for Newt. Just sounded like two wealthy businessmen arguing over whose is bigger.

Bad moment for Mitt: Saying that Americans wouldn’t want a president who pays more than he owes in taxes. That’s a sign that his tax returns, being released Tuesday, will show lots of deductions and dodges. Score one for Newt, who basically pressured Romney into putting out the returns by ratcheting up the pressure.

7:52: Andrew Sullivan’s conclusions:

10.42 pm. What a different Gingrich tonight: eager to thank and support his rivals; humble with respect to the huge challenges ahead. He has decided to cut the fireworks to foil his critics. And I presume his Super PAC will meanwhile open up various cans of whup-ass on Romney. So this is Newt on his best behavior. Even when Romney called him a “disgrace” three times.

Maybe Gingrich is trying to reassure the establishment that he is not the constant bomb-thrower and surprise agent. Maybe he realizes he needs to look more presidential. My own take is that this gambit cannot work for Newt. He is not a serene statesman. He’s a ferocious demagogue. That’s all he knows. I don’t find the new Newt very appealing. But maybe tactically, it makes sense.

As for Romney, he was back on form, but also oddly Romney-esque. The crude and dumb attacks on Obama remained. The occasional weirdness – why is he so proud that Ted Kennedy took out a new mortgage? why brag that he’d pay no taxes under Newt’s tax plan? – endured. The confidence returned, but still no character and no personality to engage with.

Anyway, it’s late now and it’s time to self-deport. Maybe the tax releases tomorrow will be more exciting.

A FEW TWEETS FROM HUMORIST ANDREW BOROWITZ ON THE DEBATE:

Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Santorum: “I am in favor of extreme measures to resuscitate my campaign.” #FLDebate
28 minutes ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Santorum: “I believe two coma victims should not be able to marry each other if they’re gay.” #FLDebate
29 minutes ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Gingrich: “I challenge my opponents on this stage to have the balls to divorce a cancer lady.” #FLDebate
36 minutes ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Romney: “As a boy, I said to my father, ‘Don’t release your taxes, Daddy. It’s going to bite me in the ass.’” #FLDebate
40 minutes ago

7:39: Romney asked when American was last great. And he gives answer I knew he would: America is still great, joblessness, he has experience to get the economy working again. He uses it to leap into riff onto his experience and jobs. Lots of content — except once again he has not answered the question but is going into canned answers. Is it just me or do others find this off-putting?

7:38: Williams asks Gingrich about what scares him about Presidency if he makes it. Gingrich says agrees with Santorum: whoever is the Prez will face enormous problems due to institutional biases, interest groups that’d rather preside over the wreckage than change the country. Still not much of an answer.

7:37: Romney asked for umpteenth time about his Romney care and being sufficiently conservative. Gives basically same answer he has given over and over. Nothing new with question — or answer.

7:35: Paul says the problem is determining what conservatism is. Says rhetoric “still pretty good,” but when in charge it’s different. Notes conservatives willing to spend more wars and won’t cut military-related money. “We have to decide what conservatism means and what limited government means.” Constitution should be the guide.

7:32: Gingrich is rattling off all the famous conservatives he worked with, his work with Ronald Reagan, how he helped win a Republican Congress. “I spent most of my lifetime trying” to create a genuine conservative movement and only a real conservative can provide the contrast to Obama. Santorum asked about electability. Santorum says all the issues swirling around Gingrich and Romney are smaller compared to the bigger issues. Obamacare: both Romney and Gingrich supported aspects of it, Santorum notes. Cap and trade? Romney first to sign it and bragged about it. Gingrich was for a cap and trade program. “Huge, huge difference between my position and where President Obama is” but not between the other two. And the bailout? “When push came to shove, they got pushed. They rejected conservatism when it was hard to stand.”

7:31: I see all these guys as more serious in this debate, more thoughtful (so far) and a bit more lethargic.

BREAK: Some tweets from political columnist Dick Polman:

Will they “commit to putting an American on Mars?” No problem. Half the time, Ron Paul is already there. #FLdebate
2 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
But why waste time refighting the Schiavo case, circa 2005? Why not bring in Tom DeLay for an opinion? #FLdebate
4 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Terry Schiavo….in the Santorum sweet spot, a 75 mph fastball down the middle. And applause for right-wing government intrusion. #FLdebate
6 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Fighting not to fall asleep, I am tempted to give up on this debate & flee the room in an act of self-deportation. #FLdebate
15 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Newt can’t be Newt amid quietude, when denied the chance to stoke the screaming yahoos. But has Mitt said anything to aid himself?
#FLdebate
31 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
C’mon, Santorum! How about “I not only want Castro dead in hell, I want him dead in hell with all the abortion doctors.” #FLdebate
39 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
BOOM! Newt tops Mitt on Castro. He doesn’t just want him dead, he wants him dead in hell. Top that one, Mitt. #FLdebate
40 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Romney comes out for the death of Fidel Castro. Finally, the audience shows a faint pulse! Rooting for death always cuts thru. #FLdebate
41 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Mitt wants to Newt to blow sky high. Newt resisting well. We’ll know that Newt has lost it when he compares Mitt to Saul Alinsky. #FLdebate
46 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
BWilliams vows to let Santorum talk soon. The way things were going, I half expected to see Rick pop in some ear buds and pull out an iPod.
51 minutes ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Re George Romney’s ’67 decision to release 12 yrs of tax returns: Mitt”s standing there thinking, “Gosh, thanks a lot, Dad.” #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Newt: “My position is not to attack (Mitt) for paying a 15 pc marginal rate.” As he puts it out there for voters to freak out over #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Newt thinks he’s an historian? It wasn’t “leadership” when he quit as Speaker. He stepped down one step ahead of being tossed out. #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Newt: “We won the House…in 1998, but the margin wasn’t big enough.” Huh? In ’98 he predicted a net gain of 30 seats – and lost 5 #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Third Mitt mention of “resign in disgrace.” Will FLA voters care to stroll down the ’97-’98 memory lane? #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman
DickPolman1 Dick Polman
Two Mitt cites of how Newt “resigned in disgrace.” Newt calls this “the worst kind of trivial politics” – this, from the master. #FLdebate
1 hour ago
Dick Polman

7:24: Gingrich asked if tax cuts worked, why didn’t Bush tax cuts work? Gingrich says 911 interfered with it. Also says need to repeal Dodd-Frank, Obamacare, etc.

7:21: Romney asked about NASA. Believes space program important for commercial and military development. Need to get people from those areas and universities to look at NASA and have it partially funded by commercial enterprises. Florida has the technology and a President can help create a mission. Gingrich asked if he’d put more money into the space race. Gingrich says two are not incompatible. Would rather see money spent encouraging the private sector to get more involved..try to get people in private sector to invest big money.

7:18: Santorum asked about his stand on Terry Schiavo. Gingrich: having a bias in favor of life and going to a hearing would automatic if it was a criminal on death row. So far answers of these guys is on the zzzzzzzzzzzz level. Not a big issue on American’s minds right now. Aren’t there more important issues in this country right now????

BREAK: A few Tweets from (and retweeted by) University of Virginia political scientist and ace analyst Larry Sabato, who reacts differently to some things than yours truly (I’d trust him more than me):

LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Mitt switches from sugar to sour. Smart to seize time & talk about what FL Rs want to hear–”Obama golfing, failing.”
2 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Gingrich is right about cane/beet sugar subsidies. Ought to happen. Ain’t gonna happen.
3 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Candidates are out of attack mode & back to substantive answers. They’ve delivered the TV soundbites they intended.
5 minutes ago
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Newt does amaze with his factoids. 86 languages in Dade Community College? Who knew?
11 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
@chucktodd Fair criticism re: applause. Twitter is an excuse for us all to be hyper-critical.
13 minutes ago
Chuck Todd
Retweeted by LarrySabato
Kyle Kondik
kkondik Kyle Kondik
Notice how much weaker Newt is when the moderator doesn’t become his pinata and there’s no football crowd #FLDebate
20 minutes ago
Retweeted by LarrySabato
Larry Sabato
\
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Why would there be 3 am call to any POTUS that Castro has smoked his final cigar? He’s not even in power anymore. Could wait til breakfast
23 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Mitt, it’s ok to say Fidel Castro is going to hell, not “another land”, or planet.
30 minutes ago
jmartpolitico
jmartpolitico jmartpolitico
As widely assumed, Fred Thompson about to endorse Newt on Hannity.
38 minutes ago
Retweeted by LarrySabato
David M. Drucker
DavidMDrucker David M. Drucker
Wait, @RickSantorum is debating? #fldebate
37 minutes ago
Retweeted by LarrySabato
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Even while going negative, Mitt comes across as preparing a case against Newt to take to the country club’s decorum committee.
37 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
No question Mitt has made the mental turn into negatives. Unrelenting on Newt. Gingrich alternately patient & annoyed.
40 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Newt pushing his role in Medicare Part D in FL. May sell among seniors. But Tea Party won’t like it. Dubya debt.
42 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Bain versus Freddie Mac. Uh-oh. They’ll both lose if this continues.
44 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Mitt, you have no idea what the historians make at U.Va. They’re as overpaid as Gingrich. (Just kidding, colleagues.)
45 minutes ago
Rich Lowry
RichLowry Rich Lowry
gingrich story is that he got $1.6mil for basically nothing
47 minutes ago
Retweeted by LarrySabato
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Newt, give it up. You did almost everything a lobbyist does. You made millions off of it.
47 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Those two kids behind Williams look awfully sleepy.
48 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
I have nothing against Romney’s wealth. But he didn’t INHERIT any of it? His Dad was fabulously wealthy. I saw the MI mansion he grew up in.
50 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Mitt’s blink rate WAY up. If i knew what this meant, I would tell you.
51 minutes ago
maggie haberman
maggiepolitico maggie haberman
um. how did mitt almost totally mess up the taxes answer again?
53 minutes ago
Retweeted by LarrySabato
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Florida audience blessedly quiet. Could be past bedtime for many. [I am furious at myself for this age-ist comment.]
53 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Newt snuggling up to Paul. Yes, that’s a disturbing image.
56 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Paul is right. Gingrich’s resignation as Speaker was NOT voluntary in ’98.
58 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
Newt acts like he took a downer, but Paul definitely took an upper.
58 minutes ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
I thought Santorum was going to whisper again. Just a crouch.
1 hour ago
Larry Sabato
LarrySabato Larry Sabato
I have to hand it to Newt–he’s been mellow. I’m like that only after a Prozac.

7:10: Romney turns question on sugar subsidies to canned riff on unemployment in Florida. I really think when Romney and others ignore a question and just vomit up boilerplate they make a huge mistake. It sounds like (and is) regurgitation of debate prep. Not spontaneous. Romney almost cut off. I think that was a mistake. ANSWER THE QUESTION YOU ARE ASKED.

7:07: Romney on immigration. Won’t run people out but “self deportation” since after transition period don’t have documentation to work in this country. They can choose to go home and get in line with everyone else. If people can’t find work here they will self deport. In transition period they could get in line at home and work their way to the front of the line. Santorum says self deportation going on now with people who can’t find jobs going back. Says those working here illegally are continuing to break the law by doing things such as using someone else’s social security number. All boilerplate from these two guys. Nothing new.

7:06: On Dream Act. Gingrich: leave the part in about getting citizenship if serve in the military but not just for going to college. Romney says me too.

7:03: On English as a second language. Romney and Gingrich asked why if they want English as official language they are sending campaign info to them in Spanish. Gingrich says to unify the country with a large number of languages it is “essential” to have a central language. Ballots only in English. Both Romney and Gingrich agree: ballots in English. Romney: “English is the language of this nation. People need to learn English to be successful and get jobs…” Paul: would not support federal law not allowing ballots in English only Florida wanted them in Spanish.

7:01: Offshore drilling? Tourist season bad in Florida due to high energy prices. Florida relies on people being able to travel and the economy being strong. So domestic supply of oil, oil from domestic sources, the Keystone Pipeline all are vital.

6:58: Santorum: Obama’s Iran policy has been a “colossal failure.” Says Iran has committed, really, several acts of war against the United States. He makes a case of “warlike behavior” and that not to act to stop them from getting nukes is reckless.

BREAK: Here’s a bit of Stephen Green aka Vodka Pundit’s “drunk blogging” for PJ Media:

6:30PM It’s Tea Party fun hearing Newt defend all these multitudes semi-government enterprises.

6:30PM If this Mitt/Newt goes on much longer, I’m going to tase myself.

6:31PM Wow. Newt was silent for three seconds. And it was painful.

6:32PM Newt: Mitt’s lying about my record!

6:40PM Sorry — MSNBC’s feed dropped out again. I see Ron is talking details the financial crisis about which he is entirely correct.

But then he’ll talk about how sanction against Iran are the same as war and SKWACK SKWACK SKWACK.

6:41PM Mitt: I’m for helping people and getting government out of the mess.

Pretty sure that, even sober, that would confuse me.

6:42PM Newt: Repeal Dodd-Frank tomorrow and the economy would improve tomorrow.

Yep.

6:43PM Good to see all this agreement on the stage against Dodd-Frank, except for Rick Santorum, who isn’t being allowed to speak until we get a written answer regarding his hair.

6:44PM Mitt: “First of all you thank Heaven that Castro has been brought to meet his maker.”

Heh. Nice Florida line.

6:45PM Of course, Williams has phrased the Dead Castro issue as an Illegal Immigrant issue, trying to wedge the contenders from Florida voters.

It’s a cheap trick. Expected, but cheap. Much like most of Rock Center’s videos from the ’80s.

6:46PM Is Ron Paul shrinking or are his suits growing?

Ron: “The Cold war is over… we’ve propped up Castro.”

6:48PM Rick: If China were 90 miles from our shore, we’d be stuffing bricks.

Meh. I’m with Ron on this one. Cuba hasn’t been a threat to us since 1991.

6:48PM And do you know how much it pains me to agree with Ron on foreign policy?

6:49PM MItt: “Of course it’s an act of war” if Iran were to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. But Obama “keeps shrinking our Navy.”

6:51PM Newt: “The most dangerous possible thing,” is appearing weak in front of Iran, vis-a-vis Israel.

6:49: Romney on Iranians. Navy shrinking too fast: should get bigger as a deterrent. Want to show Iran an action to block sealines would be “an act of war, an act of terror.” Williams asks Gingrich if Americans would agree to another war. Gingrich: Americans never had an interest to go to war — not against Japan, not after 911. Obama, he says, has been sending out signs of weakness. Romney on Afghanistan: Obama made it very hard for troops to be successful: a) giving a withdrawal date, b) drawing down troops c) not overseeing elections.

6:47: Santorum says sanctions should continue until the Castros are dead and then Cubans will have a choice. Santorum says it’s not 1962 “there is a growing network of folks networking with the jihadists, the Iranians, who are very anxious to have platforms 90 miles off our cost…this is a serious threat and its not going to go away..”

6:42: Williams asks Romney what he’d do if Castro died and Cubans en masse wanted to come to the United States. Obama has taken dangerous course with Cuba: have to stand with people of Cuba who want freedom not by giving in but by fighting for freedom. Gingrich what would he do? Says policy of the US should be to overthrow the regime and do everything to support Cubans who want freedom. Reach out to Cubans who want to be free for a Cuban spring. Vows to use all assets of Gingrich administration to “minimize the survival of the dictatorship.” Paul asked: “I have a little bit of work to do yet on foreign policy!” Gets a laugh. Says cold war is over. U.S. propped up Castro, he says, due to sanctions. “It’s time to quit this isolation business of not talking to people. We talked to the Soviets. We talked to the Chinese…I think we’re living in the dark ages when we can’t talk to the Cuban people. We’re not living in 1962 anymore..”

6:41: To help homeowners? Romney, of course. Cracking down on people who commit fraud. Gingrich: Dodd-Frank let biggest banks get bigger, crippling small business borrowing. Says Dodd-Frank needs to be repealed. Brian Williams asks Gingrich: you think the financial market is really overregulated? Gingrich: yes. One reason: helps big markets get bigger. Romney says markets were poorly regulated. Markets have to be regulated but were not properly regulated. Romney is coming much better in this debate. Much more relaxed. More natural. More authoritative.

6:37: Santorum serious and almost by rote. He was more animated in other debates. Paul: government owes people a free market and a sound monetory system. Interest rates, Paul says, kept too low to long.

BREAK: Here’s a bit of live blogging from Andrew Sullivan (his times are EST):

9.32 pm. So the crowd has been told to be quiet. And now Romney is beginning to make headway on Freddie Mac. The historian line is not working for Newt. But there’s no passion in Mitt’s challenge. Now they’re fighting over how much Bain was worth.

9.29 pm. It’s on Channel 211 in DC. Several readers couldn’t find it either. One reason: the listing is “Fear Factor: Leeches and Shaved Heads & Tear Gas, Oh My!” Sounds more interesting.

9.26 pm. Romney says he won’t follow his father’s example in releasing 12 years of tax returns. He’ll present two years – years in which he knew he was running for president. And Gingrich has now promised to reduce Mitt’s effective tax rate to zero. Great.

9.22 pm. Catching up on the early attacks from Romney. They sound comprehensive and uninspired, and Gingrich didn’t take the bait. Hence the staggering silence from the crowd.

6:29: Gingrich says Romney inaccurate. Romney talking about Freddie Mac “you were getting over $1.6 by your entities.” Gingrich tries to turn it to Bain Capital. Romney: Bain didn’t do work for government, he didn’t have an office on K Street. Gingrich tries to change subject: says he understands Romney’s technique that he used on McCain and on Huckabee. Pivots: says Romney’s charges around the state untrue on medicare. Romney: if your entities are getting paid by health companies that benefit from legislation and you meet with Congressmen that is influence peddling. “You spent 15 years in Washington on K Street…”

6:26: Williams asks why not enough detail in Gingrich’s “work product” in documents he released. Gingrich says it was very clearly consulting work. “The governor did consulting work for years.” Gingrich said he never peddled influence. “I have never ever gone and done any lobbying” and had an expert come in to explain what can do as a citizen and a lobbyist so never did lobbying “precisely because I felt this kind of defamatory and false charge would be made.” Romney: what about that big bucks as “a historian.” Says contract proves he was not a historian but a consultant.

6:25: Santorum wonders why if Romney believes in free enterprise why did he allow the bailout of Wall Street. Companies should have been allowed to fail and go through bankruptcy.

6:21 Gingrich says he’s prepared to describe his 15 percent tax plan on the Romney tax rate. Williams asked for father’s model of 12 years of returns. Romney says he’s putting out two years which should be enough. Williams asks him if he was surprised over how his wealth has become an issue. Romney uses boilerplate: knew Obama would do it surprised GOPers would use weapons of the left. “I will not apologize for being successful.” Said he built what he did by working hard, earning it, not inherited wealth. Talks about helping start Staples, Sports Authority. “I’m not going to apologize for success or apologize for free enterprise.”

6:18: Brian Williams asks Romney what’s in the taxes that will be a surprise. Romney insists nothing will be a surprise, nothing will get people talking. He says it’ll be the same as in his financial disclosure. Romney now says the real question is the taxes for the American people. MISTAKE: It sounds like he is quickly changing the subject. If there IS a surprise now in his taxes, it will suggest he changed the subject. Williams comes back to it: so “nothing will stick out…nothing will stick out…nothing will emerge that will be talked about..?” Romney now says people will talk about it but that he paid all of his taxes owed. Says it’ll be “entirely legal and fair” –but now says people will talk a bit about it.

6:14: Ron Paul asked whether he is interested in a third party. Paul says unlike others he doesn’t sit around day dreaming of being in the White House. Asked about third party — does not rule it out totally, but doesn’t sound like he will. Gingrich notes things they have in common. “There are areas we can work on.” Gingrich says it’s easier working in a coalition with Paul than Obama.

6:13: Former Senator Rick Santorum’s main argument: we need a campaign that will focus on the truth — not the candidate. A good argument — if GOPers care about election results. Indeed: Romney and Gingrich will be biggest issue if either of them get the nomination. But Santorum also is a goldmine of past quotes for Dems as well. Santorum comes across as a lot less frantic than Gingrich and Romney who clearly are trying to (excuse the word) trump each other. Santorum is trying to make a case for his own nomination.

6:10: Romney ties Freddie Mac in with Floridians suffering. On Romney: “He may have been a good financier. He’s a terrible historian.” Is this an election for Historian-in-Chief? Gingrich says ethics charges fired because other Congressmen were “very bitter” Says he was a better party builder in Congress than Romney was as head of governors’ association.

6:08 Romney notes that 88 percent of Republicans voted to reprimand the Speaker “and he did resign in disgrace.” Also notes that Gingrich’s approval rating at end of his term was 18 percent. Romney says also turns out his contract with Freddie Mac was provided by the lobbyist for Freddie Mac.

6:05: Romney says Gingrich had chance to be leader of the party and “he had to resign in disgrace.” Romney says he had the opportunity to run the Olympics while Gingrich was “working as an influence peddler” in Washington. When he was saying Paul Ryan plan was right Gingrich “was saying it was right wing social engineering.” Gingrich says he won’t try to refute Romney misinformation — he’ll (NO JOKE) put it all on a website “This is the worst kind of trivial politics.” Can Gingrich get away with saying he won’t answer — just go look it up on the Internet??????? I think the bar on our politics (and media interviewing) has been lowered AGAIN.

6:04: Gingrich on electability says voter want someone to go to Washington who’s willing to be controversial and shake things up. Touts his speakership despite his exit, was successful since a) he balanced four budgets b) he help represent conservative values.

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  • ebinput

    Question for Mr Speaker (Newt)
    You have said that you are a strict constitutionalist – following the brilliance of our constitution… how do you rationalize your view that you would decide not to obey a supreme court ruling if you disagree as well as your wanting to eliminate lifetime appointments to the court… remember our founding fathers didn’t want the justices to be influenced by politics which is the reason for the lifetime appointments… also if you choose not to obey the court are’t you in breach of oath by not obeying the constitional authority of the court.. that is what a dictator does… please help me respolve this so that I can vote for you…
    thank you

  • ebinput

    senator Santorum…
    said that the judical branch is the weakest of the three branches… this is not true – didn’t our founding fathers establish three equal branches as a system of checks and balances… if you agree why do you want to weaken the courts — is this breaking the constitution?

  • ebinput

    issue with the news media…
    they do not know how to ask a question… at the last debate the moderator as Newt to comment on his second wife comments…

    That was not the right question… instead the real question is that the speaker is an advocate of family values… he also went on to say that if a personal is dishonest in his personal life he would be dishonest in his public life.. so the real question how does he resolve his statements when he cheated on his wife? that would be fair not the stupid and mean questioning to respond to his ex-wife

  • bluebelle

    I am astounded at the brazenness of Newt Gingrich – the phrase “you lie like a rug” was invented just for him!

    Gingrich blatantly lied about his party voting to censure him in 1997 and his recent “historic” role at Fannie and Freddie. Is it that he doesn’t think voters will notice it??
    Now I’m believing his ex wives about everything. I’m also believing that old story about the Gingrich’s getting caught up in an FBI sting in 1997 — where they were going to get paid 10 million dollars to influence Congress by that international arms dealer. Gingrich belongs in federal prison, not in the Oval Office.

  • ShannonLeee

    Taxes are out…

    14% tax on $21.7 million in income…

    no wonder Mitt didn’t want to release his taxes.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “14% tax on $21.7 million in income…”
    plus “Over the past two years, Romney and his wife, Ann, gave away a total of $7 million in charitable contributions, slightly more than the $6.2 million they paid in federal income taxes.”

    Not too bad in my books…

    Added: Anyone knows what (percentage) Gingrich gave to charity?

  • ShannonLeee

    is giving to the church of magic underpants considered Charity? :)

  • adelinesdad

    SL, maybe you should ask that question of the victims of natural disasters around the world, or those in need in third world countries.

    http://lds.org/service/humanitarian/church?lang=eng

    My guess is the don’t care about magical underpants. The only people that do are bigots and political opportunists. Religious clothing is as old as religion itself. The fact that it is not worn visibly just reflects the fact that its meaning is inward, not outward.

  • ShannonLeee

    Gee A.. you know ” :) ” usually have a meaning in our techno sms world. Maybe I should have used a ;) instead?

  • adelinesdad

    Maybe I’m not up with the emoticon lingo, but I read it again and I don’t think the emoticon significantly changes the meaning of the sentiment.

    I’m not normally sensitive about people making fun of my religion, and I hold no hard feelings. But I don’t like seeing the hard work of many good people doing a lot of good throughout the world being belittled because of a completely unrelated point of misunderstood doctrine.

  • bluebelle

    I honestly think what Romney paid is fair– what DOES not seem fair is his economic plan to eliminate capital gains taxes entirely and make the Bush tax cuts even more generous to the upper class.

  • adelinesdad

    His plan doesn’t eliminate capital gains entirely, just for the lower and middle class. His taxes would be about the same as they are now, as I understand it (which is less than they’d be under Obama’s plan, of course).

  • slamfu

    Capital Gains needs to go up. Yet there will be a few million morons in this nation who will defend the 1%’s ability to keep their taxes low. Almost all of these morons will themselves be making a sub median income, paying a higher percentage in taxes, have little prospect of that income going up anytime soon, and will be spending whatever they have left over on basics like rent, car payment, and if they can, health insurance. Yet they will vote GOP and join the herd to espouse the fairness of the Bush tax cuts. Great snow job fiscal conservatives, well played.