|GOP Presidential candidate hopefuls|
Like the legendary Phoenix rising, Newt Gingrich rose to the occasion in South Carolina last night to bring his most fiery debate performance to date. For the first time since 1980, when Ronald Reagan electrified the crowd with his debate performance, the audience stood and gave Gingrich a standing ovation. The ovation only ended as the TV cameras cut out and went to a commercial break. No telling how long it really continued.
During the two hour televised Fox sponsored debate, Gingrich was questioned on the sensitivity of his previous remarks saying poor children don't have a good work ethic, or a role model to guide them. One of the Gingrich solutions to this was to offer part time jobs to kids in school to let them earn money and learn how to work. Moderator Juan Williams questioned the sensitivity of this statement and implied it belittled minorities.
Gingrich trained his oratorical guns on Williams and replied, in a most un PC way: "No, I don't see it that way. They'd be earning money, that is a good thing if you're poor. Only the elites despise earning money. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And if that makes liberals unhappy, I'm going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job."
So articulate was the Gingrich statement, Juan Williams may not have known it at the time, but he had been carved up and left wounded on the stage.
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Gingrich also had an opportunity to address some of Ron Paul's dubious answers to foreign policy challenges.
Paul had compared America's foreign policy to the golden rule and used a hypothetical instance to compare America's stealth operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, to that of the Chinese invading our country to capture a Chinese dissident.
Gingrich fired back saying, "Bin Laden plotted to bomb American embassies, attack our ship the Cole in Yemen and kill 3,100 Americans on 911. The only regret OSL had was that he didn't kill more Americans. Bin Laden is NOT a Chinese dissident and the analogy that Congressman Paul used was utterly irrational". This drew great applause from the audience and for the first time in the many debates, the crowd started to boo Ron Paul.
Even in a post debate interview, Gingrich expressed surprise at the audience reaction to his performance saying: "We've done 15 debates, I frankly am very pleased, but also more than surprised. I think everybody was surprised by it."
Gingrich will keep up his heavy campaign schedule and try to sway voters in South Carolina to vote for him in this Saturdays primary. He just picked up the endorsement of South Carolinas Lt. Governor and hopes to win other endorsements this week. He also gets one more shot at debating his fellow candidates this Thursday evening.
Although Gingrich is behind in the polls, many voters are still undecided and are looking for a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the frontrunner.
He said this morning in an interview, "Voters are looking for a candidate who can go toe to toe with Obama in debates this fall and defeat him". Gingrich thinks he has proven his debate prowess and expects voters will remember that as they cast their ballots this Saturday.
Newt has previously stated that if he were the GOP Presidential candidate, he would allow Barack Obama to use his teleprompter on stage during the Presidential debates. There is an edge to Gingrich that many admire and respect but others find he is too self assured. Of course, whoever becomes President is going to need every ounce of self assurance and belief in his abilities to head this country in the right direction.
Looking forward to next Thursday's GOP debate fireworks.
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Here's some clips from the debate: