Romney chooses worst possible time to have an off-night

In case you missed it (I did), there was a GOP debate tonight.  This one was different from some of the ones that came before: it was in Iowa, and it was on a broadcast network (ABC) rather than a cable station.

It was also one in which Mitt Romney needed to have a good night.  Recent polling shows the Newt surge continuing to gather steam, and his wacky comments yesterday about Palestinians being an “invented people” may make it harder for him to win the general election, but seem unlikely to affect GOP primary voters.

But, unfortunately for Romney, he had a rough night.  By reports I’m seeing from across the political spectrum, Romney was as robotic as ever, and that act is wearing really thin.  Gingrich, in contrast, apparently did very well, and he’s being pronounced the winner by most who have weighed in thus far.

And then there was this:

Awful. Just unbelievably awful. Who cares who’s right about what’s in Romney’s book – a comment like that just cements Romney as a charter member of the 1%. Almost nobody would actually make a $10,000 bet on anything, yet Romney appeared to be dead serious about that bet.  Expect to hear a lot about the $10,000 bet over the next few days.

It’s hard to believe that someone with as checkered, and frankly embarrassing, a history as Newt Gingrich could have a serious shot at the nomination, but his competition is so incredibly awful that it’s starting to look plausible.


40 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Mitt Romney wants to bet you $10,000

    that he understands what it means to go without. He observed Poor People while on a convert-seeking tour in France.

    • I am offended

      by the use of our aircraft tragedy as a Photo-shopped snark image. People (real Americans, our compatriots) lost their lives and their families grieved when that happened. Conservatives beat us, because they like each other. Lack of compassion between us Democrats gets our clocks cleaned out whenever election time strikes. Anti-Mhit Rmoney sentiment won’t carry the day for us. We American democrats must sustain year-round love for each other. Cambridge Democrat City Committee members alienated many of us meat-enjoying Americans with their holier-than-Dao vegetarian food spread, which might not have been Vegan anyways. James from the Cambridge DCC stank. He needs to take a shower. He’s an automaton fool of coldprogressives.borg

  2. Perhaps time to move the zeppelin back out of the hangar?

    Feeling pretty Hindenburg-y these days.

  3. Gingrich isn't a possibility, he's a likelihood

    As much as Romney’s down in national polls, if you look at the early states, it’s even uglier. Even in NH, it’s looking like Gingrich can come in with a strong second, after a huge win in Iowa. Then he gets to go to SC and get a huge win there. Then there’s projected to be a Gingrich bloodbath in Florida, and it’s all done.

    I see no conceivable way Romney can win this thing, and there’s really not a whole lot of time for people to ‘relearn’ just how bad Gingrich really is in his politics and personal life.

    The only way Gingrich doesn’t win this thing is if party leadership at the national level decides they have to risk blowing up the party to stop Gingrich from being the nominee by having a brokered convention or something of the like. And if that happens, guess what? It’s not going to be Mitt Romney who’s tapped to be the person in charge.

    RyansTake   @   Sun 11 Dec 12:04 AM
    • Furthermore

      the chances of a brokered convention seem really slim to me, no matter how inevitable Ezra Klein thinks it will be. If Gingrich has a huge amount of momentum in the early states and a commanding delegate lead, it’s going to be awfully hard for the GOP elite across the country to decide to move against that — and if it fails, they’ll be on the outs after. I don’t see too many taking that risk.

      RyansTake   @   Sun 11 Dec 12:06 AM
      • Republican contest

        I think you’re right — if Gingrich gets the early momentum, he will be difficult to stop. Still, there is some time between IA/NH and Super Tuesday…and perhaps enough time for the party elites to try to get someone else in the race. If this happens, it will be quite a choice between accepting Newt as the nominee (and accepting likely defeat) or so damaging their own candidate that likely defeat turns into sure defeat.

        Either way, the DNC and Obama are sitting pretty looking at the current Republican Party carnage.

      • On this, I disagree

        I think there’s plenty of time for Gingrich to flame out. Don’t forget there’s almost a month between IA+NH and the rest of the contests. Gingrich’s diarrhea of the mouth makes him fully capable of pissing of any number of people.

        Besides, the fact remains that the Beltway folks loathe Gingrich. If there’s any way to sabotage his campaign, they’ll do it, if only by bits at a time.

        I don’t know if Romney or Other fills the void, but I think that Gingrich has plenty of time to emphasize the dict in his diction.

    • Where's the money come from to do this?

      The bagmen in the GOP are steadfastly not donating to the Newt…once you leave Iowa and New Hampshire, things get expensive. At this point in 2008, Giuliani was set to win the GOP nomination.

      I see the GOP nomination process as similar to Russia…we’ll have the trappings of democracy, but soon the people who run the show are going to decide who the winner is. And I don’t think it will be Gingrich. You can’t really “blow up” the party if you own it; the Republicans’ owners know their people will parrot any line if it’s wrapped in the flag with a cross slapped on it.

      sabutai   @   Sun 11 Dec 10:32 AM
    • It also looks like Romney will be hurt by the way a caucus works

      Given that he is at best 20% there, he likely will have many places where he falls below 15% – meaning he gets zero there. In addition, in places where he is above 15%, he does not seem likely to get many second choice caucus goers. This could make it highly likely that he will come out of Iowa having done “worse than expected”.

      The reaction of the crowd to Gingrich’s doubling down on his inflammatory comment that Palestinians are a made up group showed how rightwing that audience was.

      • Good point

        Romney and Gingrich are the only ones who’ll hit 15% regularly. Paul will pretty often, and when not viable, I don’t thing they’ll go anywhere else.

        The question is what happens with Perry, Bachmann, Cain (?) et al are nonviable. Were the caucus tomorrow, I’d expect them to go to Gingrich. By the time Jan. 2 rolls around though, I think things will have changed.

        sabutai   @   Sun 11 Dec 5:01 PM
        • Interesting point on Ron Paul's people

          One question is whether in areas where they are near 15% will they be able to pull people from less viable candidates into Paul’s group to get that 15%. If so, Paul might do better than expected.

          I watched the many hour CSPAN coverage in 2004. I had intended to watch just a small amount to get a feel for how it worked, but was drawn in by the dynamics. It was very interesting to see how people made those second choices. The Kucinich people, viable almost nowhere, might be most like the Ron Paul people. Some absolutely refused to give up – trying to convince people in and out of groups that were big enough to be viable to join them.

  4. Dark Horse?

    The more I watch the circus show which is the current Republican field, the more I think that the nomination really could go to someone not currently in the race (Christie? Daniels?). I’ve thought all along that Romney would get the nomination — something that I think is very much still a possibility — but it’s clear that he just doesn’t know what to do now that Gingrich has seized the lead. Romney was fine in previous debates, but his performance here was simply awful and very counter-productive.

    Despite the Hindenburg-like quality of the Romney campaign, however, I just don’t see how Gingrich gets the nomination. Could it happen? Sure. But GOP party elites surely know that it would be a disaster in many ways, exceeding losing the opportunity to oust Obama (just think about the federal and state seats the GOP would lose in the Northeast and West with Gingrich at the top of the ticket…Scott Brown would be toast, for one, if he isn’t already).

    A new candidate coming in this late to a presidential contest — after Iowa and NH — would be unprecedented in modern political history. Nevertheless, we’ve seen Republicans in this cycle (Bachmann, Cain, Perry) zoom to the top of the pack in the matter of hours. And the first few pre-Super Tuesday primaries/caucuses are only a small percentage of the total number of delegates needed. This perhaps gives a current non-candidate a shot.

    In any case, it’s a crazy world in the Republican primaries right now.

    • Dark-horse long-shot

      To enter late and win enough delegates you’d need a well-funded cypher, someone who can (1) get on the ballot everywhere and (2) avoid taking any positions at all.

      This last requirement finesses the essential problem that the GOP faces, namely that there is no intersection between what the rank-and-file wants and electability. It would also help to have no track record.

      This is pretty unlikely to happen. If the convention is deadlocked, also unlikely, then there is more space for a second option, someone like Mike Huckabee, who would also be a smart pick for veep with Romney.

      I still think this is Romney’s to lose, that Gingrich will flame out, and that once Romney gets the nod he will shed his skin (and with it much of the tea-infused baggage of the GOP) and pivot and be a formidable opponent.

      • There are states where it is too late to get on the ballot

        What I have no idea about is how you could do a write in for the primaries as I think you are actually voting for the delegate to go to the convention. If you have a writein, can you just write in the name and have the candidate specify the delegate if you win.

  5. Ron Paul is going to win.

    Neither Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney is electable. The independent voters do not trust either. They are both poison. If either get the nomination, Barack Obama is going to win. Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers a clear difference in policy. I’ll bet you $10,000 that Ron Paul is the next president of the United States.

    • Dunno about president,

      but there is a glimmer of hope for him to be the nominee. He has quietly raised a ton of money and assembled a pretty solid organization in Iowa. If he should somehow win Iowa, and if Gingrich self-immolates on schedule, it’s not totally impossible that Paul could edge out the rest of the increasingly hapless field.

      • Glimmers

        Ron Paul’s polling shows him consistently at 10% or below among Republican primary voters.

        • Yes -

          I agree that the light for Ron Paul glimmers faintly at best. ;) But it does glimmer.

          • After all,

            a few weeks ago that’s exactly where Newt Gingrich was polling. :D

            • What I think Paul has going for him

              is he doesn’t come across as smarmy, and he’s not a flip-flopper. He may be nutty, but he still comes across as genuine. But somehow I doubt that caucus-goers are going to rate an honest-seeming nut above someone with the smarm charm. And honestly, I’m glad that’s a decision I don’t have to make. It’ll be interesting to see if there are indications of lack of enthusiasm in states with ballot primaries. If my choices were that line-up last night, I might just stay home on promary day.

  6. Agree on dark horse and that Newt will be, not

    When everyone offered their predictions here in January for 2011, I felt a latecomer would step in before Christmas and turn the race upside down. Still believe it could happen, but now suspect an independent, who doesn’t care so much about money or party…because they have the former and can do without the latter. And not a ‘non-candidate’ like Trump…good grief!

    Looking at the field, if I’m a right-of-center republican, I keep coming back to the somewhat cooperative and experienced Huntsman, who doesn’t appear clueless about global warming and healthcare – more sense and less drama.

    However, repubs I know won’t support Newt, will grind their teeth and vote for Romney, but are entirely frustrated. Cash may have its influence, but the GOP’s money STILL cannot convince average voters they have better answers (any?) in a struggling economy.

    Informed voters get it, perhaps more than ever, that while spending requires better scrutiny, congressional obstructionism has planted the seeds of fear in business, who continue to under-employ and suppress job growth, which ricochets into everything else.

    • Meet the "new improved" Jon Huntsman

      It doesn’t sound like you caught Jon Huntsman pivot on global warming. The old Jon Huntsman “[didn't] appear clueless about global warming”. The new improved Jon Huntsman now says (emphasis mine):

      The scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description of explanation about what might lie beneath all of this. But there’s not information right now to formulate policies in terms of addressing it over all, primarily because it’s a global issue.
      …there are questions about the validity of the science — evidence by one university over in Scotland recently…
      Huntsman said he would favor letting the debate “play out within the scientific community.”

      Similarly, the new improved Jon Huntsman is promising GOP voters in New Hampshire that he will repeal “Obamacare” (emphasis mine):

      The former Utah governor had just finished telling nearly 100 Portsmouth area voters that, if elected President, he would repeal Obamacare when several voters pressed him on how he would effect meaningful healthcare reform.

      When Huntsman said Obamacare is not scheduled to go into effect until 2014, Kaitlyn Dowling of Rollinsford spoke up, “It is affecting me right now.”

      Dowling and several other voters wanted to know how Huntsman would create affordable healthcare reform if he did get rid of the national Healthcare Reform Act.

      What we need is an expanded healthcare marketplace, and we’re not there yet,” Huntsman said.

      The “new improved” Jon Huntsman is taking precisely the wrong position on both climate change and health care.

  7. " Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses"

    Dunno what possessed me–maybe being a bit down about Dewey Sq and in need of some comic relief–but I actually watched the entire thing. Random thoughts:

    After his last ditch big spend, Rick Perry got less talk-time than did crazy Uncle Ron. And I mean that kindly, by the way. Like everyone else here, I have a lifelong aversion to NG, and Bachman is an out-and-out liar–but each season, some GOP contender comes along that really makes my flesh crawl–and that’s Rick Perry. I’d take the time to have a beer and argue history with Newt. I don’t think I could sit in the same room with RP.

    Michelle Bachmann, in response to a question about who, on stage, had most enlightened her, chose, uh, Herman Cain. A pitch, I suppose, to any uncommitted Cain people, but kinda weird. LOTS of cuts by ABC to a beaming Marcus in the crowd all night. He looked like he may have been on whatever Mitt was.

    The look on Gingrich’s face when Perry talked about how those who cheat on their wives will cheat on their business partners. Just have the feeling that someday, somewhere, maybe way down the road, Rick’s going to wake up to find a knife betwee his ribs. God help him if NG wins the WH.
    Still, Newt has made his peace with God over the whole thing. Meaning, presumably, that Iowa’s in no position to judge him.

    But, yeah, Romney. He made Santorum look like an elder statesman, Bachman stable, and worst of all, made Newt look presidential. Quite an accomplishment. I don’t know when I’ve seen a leading candidate apear so uncomfortable in his own skin; this serious business exec had the demeanor all night of a first-year junior account exec salivating all over his first big opp.

    Best question of the night was the “Yahoo” submission (do wish we could get over these branded questions): tell us about the last time you had to give something up–NOT a luxury–to pay for something else (mortgage, healthcare, work-transportation). They all had to reach pretty far back for those childhood stories, and not none of them really hit it the way Bill Clinton used to. Laurel noted Mitt’s response above. He gets us, he really gets us.

    Der Spiegel ran an editorial this week under the headline, “The Republicans’ Farcical Candidates: A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses” noting that “It’s horrifying because these eight so-called, would-be candidates are eagerly ruining not only their own reputations and that of their party, the party of Lincoln lore. Worse: They’re ruining the reputation of the United States,” and that “The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein.” Last night did nothing to change that perception.

    Huntsman mighht have added a touch of credibility to the proceedings, but in the debates I’ve seen, he barely gets a word in edgewise.

    • Romney just doesn't seem to be able to make any connection

      with voters, as evidenced by most of his tone deaf attempts at humor. He doesn’t have the touch. Who knows what was running through his mind as he came up with this bet, but it certainly wasn’t any awareness of the financial condition of the 99%ers whose votes he wants.

  8. Re-thinking Mitt

    I’ve thought for a long time that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee. However, after “I’ll bet you $10,000,” I’m changing my mind. Despite preparing to run since before he became Massachusetts governor, he is shockingly not ready for prime time. That was the knock against Rick Perry, which has come to pass. It surprises me that Gov. Romney is turning into such an awful national candidate, but perhaps it’s harder to pretend to be something you’re not than it looks.

    • Also, Newt really turned the tables on Mitt

      when Mitt accused Newt of being a career politician, and Newt replied that so would Mitt have been if he’d have won the senate race in 1994. Ouch, he’s right! In one brief reply Newt affirmed what many were thinking:
      1. Mitt has wanted to be a career politician but…
      2. He’s a bitter, hypocritical loser

      • Agreed -

        that line about losing in 1994 was quite devastating to Romney, and he had no response for it. “Bitter, hypocritical loser” is exactly right. Almost makes you feel sorry for Mitt. Almost.

  9. Badly-acted fake reality show

    At least Ronald Republican had some professional acting experience (even though he was at best a grade-B actor).

    Mitt Romney and Rick Perry looked like the high-school wannabe actors who failed to make the cut for the school play flubbing lines and dropping cues. I mean, really. These two each looked like they were struggling to see the lines popping up on the off-camera prompters.

    This GOP primary campaign together with its candidates is a national disgrace.

  10. Newt Romney!!!

    I loved how Michelle Bachmann placed Willard Mitt and Newton Leroy in the same empty suit. In many ways, they are the same opportunist flippity floppity career politicians, though Newton Leroy has a better won-loss record. The next month could be very entertaining!

    • Yes -

      Bachmann had a pretty good night, by most accounts I’ve seen, so there’s renewed speculation that she could pull off a January surprise in Iowa. Gingrich, despite his standing in the polls, has no organization to speak of in Iowa (or anywhere else, really), and it’s hard to win Iowa without troops on the ground.

  11. To Somervilletom

    Had a little trouble w/ the reply link to your comment…

    You’re right, I did miss it, my bad. I was encouraged in his signing of a greenhouse gas (reduct.) initiative, but wasn’t aware of the flip-flop. A disappointment…

  12. My money is still on Romney

    Yes, we’re getting closer to actual votes being cast, but the GOP has a decent track record of nominating someone who is electable, which Gingrich IMO is most emphatically not. Romney also has the who’s next and pedigree going for him.

  13. Hoorah for the Blimp!


  14. Ah, that blimp makes my night

    What’s the parallel image for Newt?

    • Newt

      And you can learn more about him from Wikipedia:

      Many newts produce toxins to avoid predation, but the toxins of the genus Taricha are particularly potent. Toxicity is generally experienced only if the newt is ingested, although there are reports that some individuals experience skin irritation after dermal contact.

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