The PJ Tatler

Debate Notes: The Battle for South Carolina (Updated)

The GOP candidates debate again, starting at 9 pm eastern on Fox. If you count all the one-on-ones and various candidate fora over the past year, there have been more Republican debates than an NFL team plays games in a given regular season. The debates are also one of the longest running reality series currently on the tube, or at least it feels that way after watching so many. PJ will bring you Stephen Green’s patented drunkblogging during the debate tonight over on the mother ship, and I’ll have a post-debate wrap-up once the shooting’s over and Stephen is…well, done.

For your pre-debate reading, Stephen’s sober handicapping post is worth a look. Look for mentions of Bain, and defenses of capitalism (which I never thought candidates in a GOP debate would have to resort to except in attacking Democrats), and Romney’s record as governor with punches thrown at RomneyCare, and whether voters looking for something other than Romney have anyone to coalesce around. And the fed. You can’t have Ron Paul involved without mentions of the fed. The postponed US-Israeli joint military exercise might come up. Bonus points for the candidate who works in a quip about that cruise liner that ran around and ties it to Obama’s captaincy. Or Romney’s.

Tonight there will be one fewer face on the stage, since the guy who always angled the best seats for these things has lost his season tickets. Or, he just has a ticket to ride back to Utah. So tonight it’s five men enter and…five men leave. At least until the weekend.

Update: Santorum facing super PAC ads calling him a “serial earmarker” might come up too. Santorum had a press conference about it today, and seems to be swinging mad enough to challenge Romney on it tonight. He went on the Laura Ingraham show today and basically called out Romney for peddling lies. The fiction of super PACs not coordinating with campaigns provides Romney an alibi that no one really believes.

Hm. Perry rose up months ago to challenge Romney, only to have that story about a rock in west Texas hit the streets. Cain rose up to challenge Romney, only to have allegations of past sexual misconduct surface. Then Gingrich, followed by revelations of his million-dollar work for Freddie Mac. And now Santorum gets some wind in his sails, only to have a bunch of ads thrown at him to cut those sails to ribbons. Do we need CSI to investigate where all these negative stories have come from?

Update: Santorum has gone negative (in a factual way) on Romney with this new ad up on the air in SC.