Welcome to another Republican presidential debate, the 20th for the remaining candidates, and the seventh hosted by CNN, which broadcasts the two-hour event from Mesa, Ariz., at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, moderated by John King. Is there anything new here? Oh, but yes. Both debates and debaters are “fundamentally different” than they were months ago, CNN’s Washington bureau chief and executive producer Sam Feist tells Inside the Beltway.
“Much has happened in both the campaign and the world since the early days, with progressively fewer candidates. Who’s up, who’s down? Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have all been front-runners in the past month, and their issues constantly change,” Mr. Feist says. “Republican voters can learn about their candidates in two ways. One, they can learn through a debate, where all four show what kind of leader and communicator they would be in office. Or they can learn from 30-second ads, many paid for by super PACs.”
Mr. Feist adds, “I come down on the side of the debate as a better way to discover the strengths and weaknesses of these candidates, who have all become better at their craft over time. It’s been interesting to watch them develop. These debates, I’d say, are better for the voters, better for the country, and ultimately, better for democracy.”
THE HORSE RACE
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has got a little lead on former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania as the rivals head to the Arizona debate. Among Republican voters likely to vote in the state’s presidential primary, 36 percent support Mr. Romney, 32 percent back Mr. Santorum, 18 percent favor former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 6 percent prefer Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Are voters fickle? Maybe not: Fifty-eight percent “definitely support” their choice, but 34 percent “might change their mind,” says a CNN/ORC poll of 467 Arizona Republicans conducted Friday through Monday.
Amid splashy missives from Disney, looming above the fuzzy red heads of meandering Elmo impersonators comes this stark message: “Don’t Believe the Liberal Media.” Indeed, two massive billboards emblazoned with the five-word motto went up on New York City's Times Square on Tuesday, courtesy of the Media Research Center.
The conservative watchdog expects 1.3 million onlookers to see their message during the next month, part of a $5 million public campaign to hold the liberal media accountable.
“There is no better location for this billboard than the liberal medias own backyard,” says Brent Bozell, president of the group. “This is the most important election in our lifetime and the American people are sick and tired of the left-wing media deciding who will govern our country.”
Americans still hate Congress. But they appear to hate the entire body of lawmakers more than individual representatives, says a new Harris Poll. The numbers are just plain lousy: Ninety-three percent of the 2,056 respondents give Congress a negative job review, with Republicans and Democrats reporting identical sentiments.
All were kinder to their local lawmakers, though: Almost two-thirds gave their own representative a thumbs down, with 64 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agreeing.
“Members of Congress are probably happy a lot of the focus is on the presidential race at this point in time. Their consistent string of historically low approval ratings is not the main political focus,” observes Regina Corso, senior vice president of Harris Polls.View Entire Story
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