GOP presidential hopefuls were in Iowa today for a debate, and the Associated Press has a recap of it here. The line of the day belongs to Mitt Romney:
Romney, too, was eager to criticize Democrats. His chosen target was Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who said recently he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Cuba, North Korea and Iran in his first year in office, and declared in a speech he would order military action to capture terrorists in Pakistan if that nation’s president did not.
“I mean, in one week he went from saying he’s going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he’s going to bomb our allies,” said Romney. “I mean, he’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.”
And speaking of Romney, the latest poll coming out of Iowa is good news for Romney, but bad news in general for all the candidates:
A strong presence in Iowa has lifted Mitt Romney over his Republican rivals in overall support and ratings of personal attributes alike. But his support is not strong, and likely caucus-goers overall are less than thrilled with their choice of candidates.
Only 19 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’re “very satisfied” with their choices in the presidential contest. By contrast 53 percent are “very satisfied” — almost three times as many — on the Democratic side.
The lack of Republican enthusiasm in Iowa plays out in several ways. If it holds ’til caucus day, it’d mean lower turnout; Iowans currently are less likely to say they’ll attend a Republican caucus than a Democratic one. Low turnout could hurt candidates who do less well in the conservative Republican base, notably Rudy Giuliani.
But the lack of a spark also means there’s plenty of room for preferences in Iowa to shift. Just 41 percent of Romney’s backers support him “strongly,” and across all the Republican candidates, strong support runs to just 46 percent. Strong support on the Democratic side in Iowa is 10 points higher, peaking at 60 percent for Hillary Clinton.
As things stand, 26 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers support Romney, with Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson — who’s not yet formally announced his candidacy, or campaigned in the state — at 14 and 13 percent, respectively. John McCain and Mike Huckabee have eight percent support apiece.
Recalculating on the basis of second choice brings Romney and Giuliani closer — to 20 and 18 percent, respectively — with Thompson unchanged at 13 percent.
Here’s the PDF document on the questions asked and the results.
Looks like a lot of commentary already on the debate, primarily from the left, so far today. More GOPers are likely to comment on it later, once they’re home from church and have had Sunday lunch …