A large number of the people in media are angry with Gingrich, since he never seems to miss an opportunity to rake them over the coals when their questions warrant a terse response. Some in media are whispering they do not wish to moderate any debate in which he is a participant, although I suspect that tells you more about their leftist political orientation and sub-par intelligence quotients than it does about Gingrich. Now it’s being reported [again] that Romney may be pulling the plug on the schedule Florida debates, and given his last two debate performances stacked alongside Gingrich, it may not be a bad move. I don’t know if the label “chicken” will hurt him any worse than his two most recent debate appearances, and he surely wishes to avoid any more public tongue-lashings over his failure to release his income tax returns. Some will differ, but I believe the CNN debate on Thursday was even more damaging to him personally than was Monday’s FoxNews debate, if only for his halting, equivocating answer on that specific tax return question.
The real unfairness of the debate situation is this: NBC is talking about canceling the debate altogether if Romney won’t show. I think that’s wrong, but then again, I don’t know what the contractual obligations may be, but if it were my debate, I’d go ahead with it, and make sure there was an empty podium where the absent candidate should have been. This would quickly put an end to the “take my ball and go home” attitude Romney seems to be displaying. There would be no worse public relations disaster for Romney, and no better coup for the others than to have that happen. Of course, since the media favors Romney, this would never happen even if the rules permitted it.
If Romney takes this approach to his poor performance, what will he do in the general election season? Will he skip debates then, too? All of this militates against Romney, and one would think he’d realize this before his opponents seize upon this to make yet another case against him. This is the kind of change of tactics that can either elevate or ruin a candidacy, and the Romney camp is willing to flirt with potential ruination if the public reacts badly against him rather than the near-certain ruination that could result from another bad on-stage performance next to Gingrich and the others.