The four remaining Republican presidential candidates debated again tonight in Florida, moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
My favorite exchange came when Speaker Gingrich was questioned about his proposal to colonize the moon, including the idea that if 13,000 Americans lived there they could apply for statehood. Mr. Gingrich said "look back at what JFK said," remembering how President Kennedy had inspired a generation.
Mr. Romney accused Mr. Gingrich of pandering to voters in Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center. "Politicians go from state to state and promise exactly what the state wants to hear," Mr. Romney said.
My second-favorite answer was the one Rick Santorum gave when asked how his religious beliefs would impact his decisions in the presidency. All four of the candidates had a turn to answer the question, but I thought Senator Santorum's answer about how the Constitution exists to protect "God-given rights, not government-given rights," was by far the best.
Mr. Romney had a pretty good night, and Mr. Gingrich did not, which seems to cause a lot of people to think that, given the pre-debate polls showing Mr. Romney leading in Florida, Mr. Romney will end up winning the Florida primary, and, barring unexpected turns, emerge as the Republican nominee. If he does he'll have certain strengths — support in the business community and a record of private sector business experience to contrast with President Obama's experience as a politician and community organizer. But he'll also have certain weaknesses — the most important conservative news organization, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, doesn't much like his positions or his record, and the Journal editorial page's reserve is shared by a good portion of the Republican Party's conservative base. It looks like his hope of beating Mr. Obama will be partly based on a variation of how he has managed to regain his edge over Mr. Gingrich in Florida — negative advertising aimed at his opponent combined with talk about his own business success and drawing a contrast between a private-sector, free enterprise approach and a Washington politician approach.