Make it stop…

And then there were 19 of the hellish things. Last night’s debate shed some heat and a little light. Conventional wisdom in the right-leaning ‘sphere is that Newt shot himself in the foot, Mitt came alive, and Rick really, really looked and sounded good.

Too bad it’s become a two-man race in Florida, because Rick Santorum looks a lot more like a principled conservative who will not have to defend flip-flops. Because he’s not had any on social issues that are near and dear to us (though he does have some weakness on fiscal issues, but, hey, nobody is the perfect candidate).

One of the worst moments in the debate came when Gingrich accused Romney of being, somehow, anti-immigrant. Not anti-illegal immigrants, just, plain, that man hates immigrants. Especially Hispanics, which, coincidentally of course, comprise some 20% of the Republican electorate in Florida.

Well I guess Newt can accuse Mitt of hating Hispanics. Or something; coming from Newt it’s just the noise of the moment. Neither Mitt nor Newt “hate” immigrants. Both would be for stronger border controls and more enforcement of existing immigration laws, with amnesty in selected cases. Both as president would be much less likely to prosecute states such as Arizona and South Carolina for attempting to enforce existing federal law.

All this back-and-forth nastiness between Mitt and Newt doesn’t help them nationally, but that is the nature of internecine warfare in a primary. Voters as a group will likely not remember nor care about the details of 19 debates come this fall. They will care about the actual nominee, what policies he supports, and whether they think Obama is worthy of a second term.

While the give and take was “silly and petty” (Larry Sabato on Fox just now), and we all wish the Republican front runners would tone it down when attacking each other, we go to war with the army we have.

It’s looking a lot like that army will be headed by Mitt Romney, should he prevail in Florida next Tuesday.

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