1. Great. We get another installment of the Bataan Debate March tonight. The good news is it won’t be on ABC. I couldn’t stand watching George Stephanopoulos ask more questions about contraception or listening to any of Diane Sawyer’s “I was talking to a hard-pressed barber today” woman-of-the-people anecdotes.
2. Santorum and Romney have a clear job tonight. They need to make the story about Gingrich fighting them rather than Gingrich fighting the moderator. The point isn’t to make people think bad thoughts about Gingrich’s record and character. Most everybody knows Gingrich is basically dishonest. Gingrich’s supporters just think he is the tough, unbeatable, dishonest guy we need to take on the Obama Chicago machine. The key is to get Gingrich into fights he doesn’t decisively win and keep at him. Let’s remember, this was a guy who couldn’t decisively win his encounters against Bachmann (not that it did her campaign any good.) If Gingrich leaves the debate looking no smarter or tougher than Romney and/or Santorum, there isn’t much of a rationale for the Gingrich candidacy. Gingrich’s campaign is built around this fantasy where pedantic, self-righteous bombast = ruff and tuff. Reality will intrude and bring his numbers down. Maybe it will happen in time for the Florida primary (I think probably.) Maybe later.
3. Though who can get really happy about Romney benefiting from Gingrich’s decline (when and how it happens)? It reminds me of that comment about the Iran-Iraq War. Too bad both of them can’t lose. Well maybe both can.
4. I really want someone else, and I wish I could see a realistic way for a Daniels or a Jindal to get the nomination.
5. Romney’s attacks on Gingrich have been too scattershot today. He has a lot of attacks to own up to and he needs to not give an inch and be prepared to unapologetically repeat all of them to Gingrich’s face and make the story the attacks rather than Gingrich’s wounded and dismissive responses.
6. There is room for Santorum to make an impression here. He is being written out of the story by the media, but there are two debates in which the frontrunners are going to be going at each other hard.