POLITICS

Debate Day Doldrums

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Do you have the shakes? Has the calendar seemed to drag on endlessly? Is political withdrawal proving to be much more than your body and mind can bear?

Well, brush aside those doldrums and rejoice. The next debate has finally arrived.

After a respite of 27 days, the four candidates will square off tonight on a stage in Mesa, Ariz. and for the first time yet, Rick Santorum will be the top target. He’s made his way into pole position for this race and while his party opponents may not care to challenge his social views, moderators and questioners alike will relish the opportunity.

So far, the debates, according to polls, have actually mattered to voters who are watching in large numbers and who admit they’ve been influenced by the arguing.

As for the latest poll numbers, one can only imagine Mitt Romney has used every possible version of a head-scratching, eyebrow raising sigh known to man while wondering aloud, ‘how is this happening?’

Look here.

P.S. Since social issues/religion are a large part of the platforms, my POLITICO colleague Mike Allen raised a good question in today’s Playbook:

--Something to watch for: Will Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have ash on their foreheads?

MORE MONEY BOMBS

Meanwhile, look for requests after both the debate and more importantly, after the AZ and MI primaries for those oddly-named ‘money bombs’- petitions for donors to frantically help fill the coffers over a 24 hour period to take advantage of any perceived or actual wins.

Money is of course, king. So who is pulling it all in and who is spending more than they make?

An interesting breakdown here:

And finally…

PRESIDENTIAL IDOL PREVIEW

For all you Idol fans waiting for an episode with a Presidential theme… Tuesday’s Black History Month concert taping at the White House gave you a preview… (and in light of the above stories & GOP in-fighting, it makes sense Mr. Obama is a singing mood).

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