Well, if you’re going to have a spin room, don’t you want people who “spin” for a living? In this case, we have one of the most appropriate appearances in politics. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s spin, too, and if you look carefully in this video, you can see Philip Klein shooting me an “I can’t believe we’re recording this” look that I was returning at the same time. Most audacious spin: Debbie Wasserman Schultz claiming that Barack Obama has begun climbing out of the pit of George Bush’s record deficits by, er, tripling the worst deficit Bush ever ran three years running, or something. Like I said … spin.
Believe it or not, we also had some Republicans in the spin room as well. In fact, as he has done in every debate, Rick Santorum represented himself in the spin room, which I thought might not happen due to either his front-runner status or his sore throat. Nope; Santorum stuck to his plan, and this time he got a lot more attention. In fact, I didn’t even hear what he was saying until I played this back tonight in the filing center. Santorum answers questions about his 2006 loss in the Senate race, and says that he has “no doubt” that he can win in Pennsylvania now. Santorum also says that he “repeatedly” attacked Romney in this debate:
After this, I found Senator Rand Paul representing his father Ron in the hall. Once again, it was impossible to hear the conversation, and I’m grateful for the good microphone I have for this purpose. Paul talks about his effort to force a vote on Barack Obama’s Libya adventure, an effort that I wholeheartedly supported and applauded at the time. He also offers some insightful analysis about why it’s so hard to go after Romney, which is that his demerits are already so well known — and that the rest of the field have some of the same shortcomings. Maybe Rand and Ron should trade places.
I also briefly got to interview former governor John Sununu, who first asked me who I represented. When I told him Hot Air, he laughed and said, “‘Hot Air’? Sounds like Democrats!” I told him nothing could cut me more deeply, and so he agreed to do a short interview to help promote Romney’s performance in the debate:
Since we have another debate tomorrow, I probably shouldn’t wait to give my thoughts on the one tonight. To channel my inner Newt — frankly, I thought it was fundamentally awful. In the first hour of the debate, ABC managed to waste about a quarter of the time on states banning contraception, which was a pressing issue as recently as … 1965. Mitt Romney reamed out George Stephanopoulos for fixating on contraception, and eventually Diane Sawyer shut him down on it. Then both of them went on a long series about gay marriage, which is another issue that is nowhere near the top, oh, 50 issues in American life today. Newt Gingrich ended up asking ABC why it isn’t pursuing anti-Catholic bigotry in media and government, one of his best moments in the debate, and we eventually spent a lot of time talking about jobs. Ha, ha, I kid, of course; that subject was barely mentioned by ABC and had to be repeatedly referenced by the candidates instead.
Guy Benson has a marvelous blow-by-blow roundup, so be sure to read it in its entirety. My assessment is that Romney once again won by not getting punched by the field, which seemed to focus more on each other instead. Newt Gingrich never went Newtclear as we figured he might, and that made his performance tonight a bit anti-climatic, but he was still good, effective, and especially dynamic when he went on the warpath with ABC. Santorum helped his cause with a strong debate performance. Rick Perry gave another good debate performance, but I doubt it will be a gamechanger here or in South Carolina; he needs a spectacular performance, accompanied by collapses for all of his competitors. Paul was Paul, and Huntsman — who started out very sharp — eventually was Huntsman, with a quote in Chinese that had the press in the filing center groaning and laughing. That could be a game changer for Huntsman, but not in the way he wants.
I’ll watch tomorrow’s debate, but I’ll be doing so from my hotel room. I don’t expect to get too much better, with the candidates going on little sleep and wondering how they let Romney slip from their grasp yet again.