1. Gingrich looked like just another guy up there and he came out the loser in his exchanges with Romney. Part of it was Gingrich trying to get into above-it-all frontrunner mode. A bigger part is that what you saw yesterday is what he is usually like when people really go at him. Gingrich comes off as this awesome debater when he is attacking the moderator to the hoots and hollers of the home crowd. Gingrich knows full well that it isn’t the moderator’s job to argue back at him or return personal insults and, if the moderator tries, the partisan crowd will cheer Gingrich even more as he goes after the elitist, weenie, liberal media. There is this fantasy that the general election debates are going to happen in some Tea Party Thunderdome where the live crowd will go wild for Gingrich and boo Obama into broken silence. But what is it like when you take away the advantage of the hometown crowd from Gingrich? You get the quiet Gingrich of yesterday. His indignation act would sink, limp and absurd, in a silent auditorium. And Gingrich knows it. In a general election debate against Obama, Gingrich would go out like a lamb.
2. Santorum really faded into the background.
3. Romney got the better of Gingrich when they clashed directly, but he still hasn’t found the range. The line is that Gingrich is a crony capitalist just like Obama. Freddie Mac = 144 Solyndras.
4. If I thought drafting Mitch Daniels would get him to run, and if I thought he could really be nominated given that he has missed a bunch of filing deadlines to appear on ballots (and then there is the reality that all candidates have warts and bad days), then I would be all for drafting him or Bobby Jindal.
5. A combination of bad luck, the legal architecture of the nomination process (which makes candidates getting in late difficult-to-impossible – and defines late as December of the year before at the latest), the center-right media environment and the mood of some center-right voting blocs has given us a terrible field and an even worse debate. When you consider our problems with debt, entitlements, and health care policy, yesterday’s debate was a disgrace.
6. I really respect Daniels for deciding that his family’s stability and happiness is more important than being president. At one of last week’s debates, Gingrich complained that the nomination process discouraged decent people from running. He could have completed the thought by noting that the process also encourages the pathological. The only mystery is why Gingrich would be complaining about such a situation.
7. Oh, what the heck. RUN MITCH RUN
8. But until then, Santorum or Romney.