A Debate at Our House — The City Online - Houston Baptist University

A Debate at Our House

by John Mark Reynolds on January 19, 2012

(I watch this debate with the family ranging from 73 to 17. We opine. Live blog, pardon many errors!)


Newt is asked about his marriage.

He argues that it is not an issue and that it is a network problem for bringing it up. Newt answered the question calmly during the day and then ramped it up for the audience.

His “rage” is for the camera. (This was confirmed when later he backslapped with CNN after the debate.)

Newt Gingrich was a world class hypocrite. He is unfit to serve in the “bully pulpit” in the White House. The women in this Republican house will not vote for Newt Gingrich. This room, divided over other candidates, will vote for any person on the stage before Newt Gingrich.


Romney gets booed by a few over a refusal to say how many years of taxes he will release. This is his weakest moment. Just. Release. The taxes.

You must Mitt. You must.

Newt’s Standing Ovation

Newt might have gotten a standing ovation today, but my children rightly asked, “How could he speak for family values and then hold himself to a different standard?”

Republicans rightly rejected a water-tight public/private distinction at the time of Bill Clinton.

Newt Gingrich betrayed the people who trusted him while he was looking to impeach Bill Clinton. He behaved in a reckless and irresponsible manner.

We move to other issues. Santorum made it clear that he thought Gingrich unfit to serve, but his gentlemanly demeanor kept him from saying it directly. My children are now asking me why “private” evil can be kept watertight from public.

Another asked me today why people keep pointing to other president’s problems when voters at the time did not know those problems. It is one thing to cause public scandal by voting knowingly for a man and another to do it unknowingly.

Second, while the prodigal should be received, for which I thank God personally, one need not put the prodigal in the White House. The father, in the prodigal parable, after all left the ranch to the elder brother while forgiving the younger prodigal son. Newt wants to be sorry and made president.

Finally Jobs

Romney talks about creating jobs and what to do with the economy. He indirectly talks about Gingrich. He defends free markets.

Santorum plays the working man card. This is the Huckabee position, but Santorum does it with more detail and less charm.

Gingrich is clueless about the nature of venture capital. Will anybody say that? Still, the visual is of Newt getting a standing “O’ by blasting the “liberal media.” Is that the whole debate? Will Newt get a win just to stick it to the media?

Safe Stuff

Paul and Santorum defend veterans. Safe Republican task.

Nobody says anything of interest.


Romney discusses Obamacare carefully.

He gives state waivers first, then he will go to Congress and persuade, and finally he will replace it with an idea that he has on the table. This will include coverage for pre-existing conditions. “He is wrong . . . ”

Newt is in his most jowly smiling mode on this question. “If you watch Washington and you are not skeptical . . . ”

We have. You Mr. Gingrich are part of the problem and we are skeptical of you.

Santorum takes on Romney on “Romneycare.” Well done. Santorum does well here. “He stands by it . . .” Most of his attacks are on Romney. Newt is also the record, he says, for personal mandate.

Newt is thrown some bon mots, but does not argue.

Newt finds Santorum’s views “mildy amazing.”

My Dad says of Newt’s Lincoln/Douglass offer, “Newt is the most obviously arrogant man to run for President.”

Ron Paul is at his best on medical care. He has knowledge and credibility.

Newt thinks speaking and debating well solves everything. Paul’s plan to get rid of government care is interesting.

One person in the house, “Newt is ruining the Republican Party.” Another compared him to the unctuous Slope in Trollope.

On Reagan and Newt

Evidently Newt released his taxes. Will anyone care a poor man grew rich on his government service?

“Grandiosity” has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. We cannot afford a guy we have to “worry about.”

Newt says, “How big a scale of change do we want in Washington?” Newt takes credit for the Reagan administration.

Santorum just destroyed Newt. Destroyed him. He pointed out that Newt was humiliated as a leader in Washington. Those are facts.

He got under Newt’s skin.

Romney says we should vote for someone outside of Washington. Romney says that Reagan mentioned Gingrich once. He points out that Newt never helped him as a business man. The last few minutes were horrific for Newt.

Mitt and His Taxes

Mitt handles the tax record better. He now has a question about his Dad. We will get Romney’s taxes for multiple years around April 15. He wants no “dribs and drabs.” This is smart, though he might take a hit in South Carolina.

We listen to Rick Santorum on taxes. Weird plan that picks winners.

We all hate SOPA.

“SOPA is bad,” says Newt in the most meandering answer ever.

Romney agrees. Paul agrees. Santorum agrees, but then says “anything goes” on the Internet is wrong.

SOPA is terrible, but Santorum has a point. Something needs to be done, but SOPA is not it. Free trade and piracy are not the same thing.

A Break

Break consensus in the room: Newt took a worse hit than we have ever seen in a debate. Santorum destroyed him. Come on South Carolina the room said . . . it was not the liberal media that removed Newt as Speaker. He was an incompetent leader.

A Stupid Question on What You Would Change in Your Campaign

Newt just admitted he cannot beat Obama. He would run an “Internet campaign.” What? Great, that would beat a billion dollar campaign from the President.

Romney makes a decent joke and goes after Obama. Nice.

Santorum would change “nothing.” Bad start, humble finish weirdly.

Paul also wouldn’t change anything. Paul is a jolly old man. I like him. Our room will not vote for him, but he is aging well.

Sigh and Immigration

Gingrich has lost energy.


I just have to say as a Dad that it is discouraging when during a debate my kids have to ask WHICH WIFE Speaker Newt offended (of three).

Great Newt, banks never commit fraud. Bank of America did not give me a fraudulent mortgage. Newt invents several new things for government.

Look! Romney gave a clear answer compared to Gingrich. Good! He is listening to Ian.

Santorum talks about immigration on a more heartfelt manner. Santorum never changes his mind? That strikes me as being an ideologue not a statesman. He needs a better approach.

Romney turns the issue to legal immigration nicely done. Paul points out there are economic incentives to illegal immigration. He also points out the many incentives

Romney looks like he is thinking: “Darn it to heck, what is that nice old guy talking about it?”

On Abortion

Everyone is pro-life.

People here laughed out loud when Newt says, “On the day I am inaugurated . . .” One said, “that is a counter-factual, less plausible than a brain in a vat . . .”

Newt is nasty.

Romney argues to Newt “This is no time to question someone’s integrity . . . ” and Newt passed. Newt now cannot talk about anybody’s integrity.

Santorum hammered away at Romney and Gingrich. The audience forces Paul to be able to respond.

Paul has a good response as a doctor to abortion. Morality must change and then law changes. He invites government medicine. Nicely done, Dr. Paul.

Paul accuses Santorum as being overly sensitive. Santorum looks at Paul and thinks: “You are crazy.”

Why? Paul seems to think that crime (see treason for example) is never taken up at the Federal level. That would be news to 200 years of American history.

They Sum Up

Dear Dr. Paul: South Carolina not famous for liberty, but for treason in favor of slavery. Really.

Newt: he talks about principles and everybody laughed out loud in our house.

Romney: refers to the Declaration and gives a good sum up.

Santorum: who is the best person to take on President Obama? We need a clear contrast. “vote for me”

Romney is consensus winner of conclusion.

Bottom Line

This debate was less well run than the Fox Debate.

Newt Gingrich was embarrassingly grandiose reminding me of Mr. Toad on a wild ride politically . . .Newt said he was grandiose, which doesn’t mean what he seems to think it means.

Undecideds here, including some chums, in the room said: “We will not vote for Newt.” Period. Ever.

Will South Carolina keep Newt alive?

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