The Final Presidential Debate?
Tonight’s CNN debate from Arizona may be the final debate of the Republican Primary. If the race is going to be competitive all the way to the Republican National Convention, it’s hard to see not having a couple more, but none are currently on the books.
Tonight’s debate should be interesting. Santorum and Gingrich have spent most of their time going after President Obama’s policies over the last week or so. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have been critical of Santorum. On top of all of that, social issues have dominated the news in the past ten days.
While many will think that’s problematic for Santorum since he’s smack dab in the middle of all of it, at least he knows what he believes. On the other hand, Romney, Gingrich and Paul may be the ones who will need to provide a response on these issues since they have been largely silent.
The debate also could determine the winner in Arizona. Romney leads in the state, but by only four points. Unlike in Michigan, the presidential race in Arizona has been a little sleepy. If Santorum or Romney have a strong performance tonight, it might help them edge out their opponent.
Santorum’s Catholic beliefs have come under attack from the media this week. With tonight’s debate occurring on Ash Wednesday, one has to wonder if he and fellow Catholic, Newt Gingrich will be sporting ashes on their foreheads when they take the stage tonight. If so, one has to wonder if the mainstream media, or even the pro-Romney Matt Drudge, will ridicule them for the ash cross on their foreheads.
Let’s hope not, but after watching the media’s reaction to a man who is not ashamed of his faith, I’m preparing myself to be disappointed.
Inside The Numbers:
What have the candidates and their affiliated Super PACs spent thus far to get where they are today?
Mitt Romney: $76 million
Ron Paul: $32.6 million
Newt Gingrich: $26.3 million
Rick Santorum: $8.3 million
In 2008, Romney spent $105 million on his race. That puts the total that he has spent trying to win the Republican nomination at $181 million. Yikes.
At this point in the campaign in 2008, John McCain was the presumptive nominee and had spent $40.5 million. Romney and his Super PAC spent twice as much, and they find themselves nowhere near securing the nomination.
Romney and his Super PAC have outspent Santorum by a 10 to 1 margin. Still, Santorum has won more states and finds himself on top of Romney in the national polls. Obama spent $635 million to win the White House in 2008. If Romney has to outspend his opponents by 10 to 1 to win, his campaign would need to raise over $6 Billion dollars. And conservatives were disgusted when the Obama political team suggested that the incumbent president would spend one billion on his re-election campaign.
Rand – Mitt and Ron’s Lovechild
Ron Paul is running a campaign ad that attacks Rick Santorum in Michigan. The ad buy in miniscule when compared to what Romney, Santorum, and their affiliated Super PACs are spending in the state. However, it is another example of Paul being friendly to Romney by attacking his main opponent. Paul has yet to criticize Romney in a TV ad or debate.
Paul can run his campaign as he sees fit, but the move goes against his self stated strategy of focusing on caucus states. That has led many to question Paul’s motives in the race since the one thing he seems the least interested in is actually winning a state. I have stated many times that I don’t think there is any chance that Ron Paul will run as a third party candidates in 2012. The reason is that, in doing so, he would limit his son’s ability to seek the Republican nomination in 2016 and beyond.
If Romney is the nominee, it is likely that Sen. Rand Paul could be on Romney’s short list for Vice President. You may think that it sounds crazy, but Romney will need to do something to reach out to the base. Even if Rand Paul is not selected as Romney’s running mate, there is a good chance that Rand would be given a high-profile speaking spot at the national convention in Tampa later this summer.
Paul’s attack ad will help Romney in Michigan, but attacking Santorum is good for the Paul franchise. At 53 years of age, Santorum is likely to remain a powerful figure in Republican presidential politics whether or not he wins the 2012 nomination. What we may be seeing is a preview of a future campaign between Santorum and Rand Paul. Santorum is the only remaining GOP contender who could mount another presidential run, which is something that Rand Paul also seems interested in doing down the road.
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