- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE MITT SHOW

The presidential debates are Mitt Romney-centric: He gets more time on camera than any other candidate, offering some quantifiable proof that, indeed, Mr. Romney is the “inevitable” candidate — the mainstream media’s preferred choice for Republican nominee. A delightfully nitpicky review of recent debates by the University of Minnesota categorizes the ongoing debates as “the Mitt Show,” faulting the “grossly unequal distribution of face time.”

Here are the telling numbers: During the last five debates, Mr. Romney enjoyed a luxurious 73 minutes and 22 seconds of speaking time, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 53 minutes, 51 seconds; Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota (40 minutes, 57 seconds); former corporate CEO Herman Cain (38 minutes, 43 seconds); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (38 minutes, 23 seconds); Rep. Ron Paul of Texas (37 minutes, 1 second); and former Sen. RickSantorum of Pennsylvania (35 minutes, 5 seconds). Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. comes in at 29 minutes and 45 seconds, but he also skipped the Nevada debate.

All told, Mr. Romney has spoken longer than Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum combined, the research found. In the two-hour, CNBC debate on Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor led the way with almost 15 minutes of elocution, or 22 percent of the total time allotted to the eight candidates. Mr. Gingrich garnered less than 10 minutes, Mr. Cain less than nine and Mr. Santorum barely five minutes. See the details here: www.smartpoliticsblog.org.

GOLD’S THE THING

A TV-ratings bonanza suggests that all those conservative talk-radio hosts who recommend gold as a financial strategy are on to something. Americans are instinctively drawn to gold — and tales of gold — in hard times. Witness Discovery Channel’s new reality show “Gold Rush,” now drawing close to 4 million prime-time viewers on Friday nights, topping ratings in both broadcast and cable networks, and in key demographics. The show chronicles unemployed Todd Hoffman, his father and an amateur crew of recently unemployed friends as they mine for gold in the brutal wilds of Alaska.

“In an uncertain economy with a fluctuating stock market, the price of gold has been steadily climbing. For Todd Hoffman and the rest of the gold miners, the stakes have never been higher,” executive producer Christo Doyle tells Inside the Beltway. “If Todd and the crew bring home 500 ounces of gold this season, and you multiply that by $1,775 per ounce, it’s a hard-fought dream come true. And that transcends all politics.”

BUMPER PATROL

“Go OCCUPY yourself. Get a job.”

- Bumper sticker spotted in Richmond

DEBATE DEBATE DEBATE

Republican presidential debates are just like buses. There’s another one along every three minutes it seems, giving candidate a chance to redeem themselves, bury their gaffes and preen before cameras.

Some critics felt that Texas Gov. Rick Perrymoment with unapologetic brain fog in the CNBC bout was akin to Howard Dean’s unpresidential shriek in 2004 as a Democratic White House hopeful. But the public has an increasingly shorter attention span and a certain forgiving attitude toward less-than-polished candidates. Will Mr. Perry’s moment stay on the radar? We’ll see Saturday. The nine Republican candidates meet once again at 8 p.m. for a CBS/National Journal debate centered on national security and foreign policy.

It’s the GOP debate debut on regular broadcast rather than a cable channel, which could mean a wider, larger audience. The moderators are CBS News anchor Scott Pelley and National Journal congressional correspondent Major Garrett.

CNN, in an unusual alliance with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, will stage a national security/foreign policy debate at historic DAR Constitution Hall in Washington on Nov. 22, moderated by anchor Wolf Blitzer. Meanwhile, a candidate forum is scheduled in Iowa on Thanksgiving Day, followed by three more formal debates in December, six in January, and three more in February and March.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND

Combat veteran Pete Hegseth, founder of the nonpartisan Vets for Freedom, has returned to Afghanistan as a trainer for Afghan and coalition troops. He’s also issuing email updates about what he sees. Sign up here: www.petehegseth.com. And see his organization here: www.vetsforfreedom.org.

CANDIDATE TRACKER

Yes, the restless Republican hopefuls ramble down multiple campaign trails. Here’s where they’ll be in the next 72 hours:

Florida (Mitt Romney); Georgia (Herman Cain); New York (Mr. Cain); Iowa (Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry); New Hampshire (Mr. Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer); South Carolina (Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Cain, Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Huntsman, Mr. Paul, Mr. Perry, Mr. Romney, Rick Santorum); and Wisconsin (Mr. Cain).

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of Americans say the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans is larger than it’s been historically.

• 70 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans agree.

• 60 percent overall say the U.S. government should “pursue policies” to reduce the income gap.

• 81 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Republicans agree.

• 44 percent overall support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

• 69 percent of Democrats, and 24 percent of Republicans support it.

• 43 percent overall support the tea party movement.

• 27 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans support it.

• 33 percent of tea party supporters support the Wall Streeters; 33 percent of Wall Streeters support the tea party.

Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com

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