If it was obvious within seconds of Thursday night’s debate that Newt Gingrich was going to hit another rhetorical home run—only long as it took for him to glare icily and say “No, but I will” when John King asked if he wanted to comment about his ex-wife’s unsavory accusations—it was equally clear that Mitt Romney had struck out again when he tried to make a joke out of moderator King’s question about making his tax returns public. Would he follow in his father’s presidential-candidate footsteps and release a dozen years’ worth of returns? “Maybe,” the frontrunner said, affecting the sort of goofy look that flailing stand-up comics resort to when their material is hopelessly lame. (And then, like Romney, they get well-deserved catcalls and boos instead of laughs.) At least until tomorrow night’s South Carolina results come in, the CNN debate was the thrills-and-chills capper to a week that breathed—no, heaved and spat—life back into the Republican contest. Huntsman out. Perry out. Palin and Cain making comebacks. Gingrich getting a standing O for bullhorning (not dog-whistling) his rabble-rousing “food-stamp president” smear of Obama on Monday. Romney inexplicably unable, after seven years of running for president, to conjure a coherent answer about his taxes—except to reveal that his rate is rock-bottom. ABC News turning Gingrich’s second marriage into a prime-time soap opera. Gingrich soaring to the top of the polls. Whatever happens on Saturday, we now know two things for sure: The 2012 Republicans can produce a first-rate farce even without Cain and Perry. And the show ain’t over.
So They Say
“I call them dumb arses.”
—Sarah Palin, swatting the “liberal media” on behalf of Newt Gingrich.
Daily Meme: Swinging with Newt
- Gingrich deftly swatted away his second wife’s accusations at the debate…
- …but he still has some answering to do…
- …which the full interview makes clear.
- His daughters say the whole thing is “simply untrue.”
- Did his ex actually do him a favor?
What We're Writing
- In South Carolina, Jamelle Bouie visits with Ron Paul’s supporters.
- Abby Rapoport writes about what the Supreme Court’s Texas redistricting ruling didn’t decide.
What We're Reading
- Romney tamps down expectations; “I expect that Newt will win some primaries and contests, and I expect I will as well.”
- Why did Santorum go after Gingrich at the debate, when a Newt victory in South Carolina keeps the race going?
- “Lighten up, America”: Steven Colbert and Herman Cain rally supporters in South Carolina.
- No, this is serious! MSNBC’s Chuck Todd blasts Colbert for “making a mockery out of the system.”
- Tea Party Patriots are getting behind Gingrich.
- President Obama sings Al Green: “Let’s Stay Together,” people!
Poll of the Day
Gallup’s editor-in-chief says the national numbers show Romney’s support is “collapsing.”