I am a little behind on this news, but since it is, still an interesting topic I am going to cover it regardless. I am talking about the news that the March 1stCNN debate has been canceled because Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum all pulled out.
It is easy to start to feel exhausted from the contentiousness of these debates, with the same argument between the same candidates. Nothing major has happened in the debates that have altered the race since Romney won Florida. It helps that there has not been any debates since then, and that is why this debate out of all of them, should not have been canceled.
The race has completely changed since the Florida debate. Romney was swept when he started losing states he won in 2008 handedly. Santorum is now threatening to win Michigan, by most accounts now a must win state for Romney. Ron Paul has not won any states yet, and he is suspected of making strategic deals with Romney (which by the way has to leave his supporters perturbed because of those Zionist taking over the world thing). Newt Gingrich is flailing right now, and since the debates have been his lifeblood, this harms him the most.
I have little doubt why this debate was not something team Romney wanted to do. They started planting the seeds long before the news broke after Gingrich won South Carolina. This would have been the last debate before Super Tuesday, and team Romney could not afford a resurgent Gingrich or a strengthened Santorum to come out of this debate. Romney has tended to shoot himself in the foot when on the debate stage ($ 10,000 bets and not hiring illegals because he “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake”) and at this point in the game, he cannot afford a huge gaffe.
What I do not understand is why Santorum and Paul dropped out. I suspect Paul has some silly reason that involves him getting his favored speaking position at the convention, but Santorum could have really done Romney some harm by debating Gingrich right before Super Tuesday. Yes, this would have given Gingrich a chance to regain some of the lost momentum, but in likelihood, they could have turned the whole debate into a referendum on why Romney is too weak of a candidate to face President Obama.
Gingrich is already attempting to use this to his advantage “The Romney model is go to Wall Street and raise huge amounts of money to run negative ads, and you can understand why having to defend that strategy is probably not something he’s very happy about.”
This would have been a much stronger argument coming from the candidates that did not skip the debate. My guess is if Santorum had stayed in, then Romney would have felt the pressure to go to the debate and decided to go. The Romney is weak argument is a particular powerful one after McCain attempted being civil in 2008, and Romney is already trying to convince people he is the outsider with the strength to go toe to toe with the Chicago machine. Not having been elected to a Washington governmental office does not really mean that you are a non-establishment candidate. Skipping this debate shows a weakness Romney should want to hide.
This seems like a wasted opportunity for the non-Romney in this race, one that could have been further harmed Romney’s already precarious situation.