By Mark Green
The top two Republican presidential competitors continue their bitter Fisher-Spassky contest. Romney wins big in Florida but then adds to his patrician flub reel; Gingrich gives a non-concession speech and shares the date of his moon-colony, to be given statehood ahead of D.C. and Puerto Rico.
*On Gingrich's Viability. After Romney's Sunshine State primary victory makes him appear to be a near-prohibitive favorite, Kellyanne is asked whether Gingrich will tone down his venomous personal attacks ("conservatives won't vote for a Massachusetts pro-abortion, pro-gun, pro-taxes, pro-gay liberal who's buying the election") because it helps Obama. She notes that Gingrich tried to run a positive campaign but the Romney team told the New York Times after South Carolina that it had a new strategy toward Newt -- "don't defeat him, destroy him." Ron thinks that while Gingrich has at best a 10% chance to win the nomination, "he has a 0% chance of being president... but will make life very unpleasant for Romney."
Kellyanne is asked how Gingrich can be viable given unprecedented polls numbers of 27% favorable-55% unfavorable, due in part to a gender gap and reputation as a nasty slasher. She questions whether there's a serious gender gap, adding that "If I saw an ad 40 times a day that someone pulled the wings off butterflies, I wouldn't like them either... and notice that Romney never talks about his record as governor." Ron pounces: "Why would Gingrich do that to butterflies... and at least Governor Romney didn't resign in disgrace."
*On Romney's Win & Gaffe. Speaking of Romney, we listen to his post-Florida comment that deals even-handedly with the very poor and very rich, which mirrors Anatole France's famous observation that "the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread." Kellyanne concludes that Romney does have a patrician problem of not connecting to lunch-bucket voters. "He's just not their candidate."
And why would anyone want the support of the unpopular Trump, "a game show host for god's sake" exclaims Ron? Kellyanne agrees that all the GOP candidates (except Ron Paul) sought his support, largely "to make sure he didn't run as a third party candidate, which would guarantee Obama's reelected." She can't resist observing that the endorsement itself lasted all of seven awkward minutes and that, when it was wrongly leaked that The Donald would be for The Willard, the Romney blogsphere lit up attacking the endorsement, only "to look like fools when Trump did Romney."
Joe Scarboro said on Morning Joe that after a holocaust, the only survivors would be "cockroaches, Cher and...Gingrich." But, prods the Host, don't we know how this ends? "Since Newt had and will have a big career on the conservative talk network, won't he eventually relent, recant and be given a prime-time slot at the convention to give a... Pat Buchanan-like speech?" Ms. Conway balks about speculating about withdrawl when only five percent of the 1,441 delegates have been chosen. Mr. Reagan agrees, but with this twist: "We haven't scratched the surface of Romney. Who's discussed the fact that, until the age of 31, he was a member of an explicitly racist organization, the Morman Church" [until they first allowed non-whites to join]? He hasn't had to answer for that."
*On Super PACs and the Super Bowl. As legally required, this week super PACs disclosed who was behind them, including 60 people who each gave over $100,000 to a Romney-supported one despite campaign finance laws capping direct donations at $2,400 (as well as the Adelsons' $10 million donation to Gingrich's super PAC). Doesn't this make it appear to put the presidency up-for-sale?
Kellyanne urges transparency for all such gifts, as proposed in the DISCLOSE Act, but then argues that anyone should be allowed to give anything. "Mark, just as you can spend money for a car, a house, your granddaughter, let people spend what they want on candidates." The host's 1-year-old granddaughter would likely endorse that sentiment, but he asks whether America should go back to the pre-Watergate law because private spending on oneself is different than public donations in a public election. Ron argues against "politicians for sale [where] rich people would have more influence" than voters.
Then James Carville & Mary Matalin, the Host Committee co-chairs of the 2013 New Orleans Super Bowl, call in from the 2012 one in Indianapolis. They chat about betting odds shifting to the Giants [this is from Friday] and their affection for their hometown Manning family. Adds James, the Patriots will win IF their offensive line gives Brady time... and when have you ever heard anyone in the Manning family saying something stupid?"
*Quick Takes: Religion & Bullying. Obama-Osama, Again. A proposed Tennessee state law would allow students to make anti-gay remarks if based on religious conviction. Citing how liberals are usually for free speech, Kellyanne says students in class should be able to express their biblical beliefs against homosexuality but not be permitted to make anti-gay comments outside of class meant to bully others. Ron is adamant: "I'm tired of religious groups getting a pass on bigotry. What could be more Christian than bullying a gay child, I suppose."
We listen to Vice President Biden tell a Democratic gathering that all of President Obama's security advisors, except for Defense Secretary Panetta, hedged when asked whether he should go ahead with the risky bin Laden raid. QT: So when Romney accuses him of being an "appeaser" and "apologist," isn't it an effective answer when the president simply says, "ask bin Laden?"
Ron concurs, especially since the governor has no foreign policy experience outside of "overseeing the luge event at the 2000 Winter Olympics." Kellyanne lauds Obama in this case, adding two observations: References to the death of bin Laden have been an effective applause line in speeches but haven't done much for his overall poll position; and it would be a strong argument next fall against a former governor without foreign policy cred but less so against the sophisticated former speaker.
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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