So how was it?
The debate started like a WWE match with each candidate introduced by the announcer one by one. CNN even went through the trouble of giving each of them a nickname, like “The Firebrand” for Michele Bachman, “The Newcomer” for Rick Perry, and “Absent from this Debate” for Gary Johnson/ Buddy Roemer/Thad Mcotter. Then what followed was a bunch of CNN self-promotion and the national anthem, after which the debate finally started. Here’s what went down:
Perry vs. Romney: Perry started off well on Social Security. He and Romney fought over whether Perry was scaring seniors by referring to the program as a Ponzi scheme. But over the course of the argument Perry seemed like the bigger man by portraying himself as willing to have a tough conversation while Romney came off as pandering to the fear of senior citizens. When it came to job creation, Romney praised Texas for its policies and natural resources, but finished off by using a poker analogy by saying just because Perry was dealt four aces it does not mean he’s a poker champion. Perry retorted “You were doing pretty good until you got to talking poker.”
Perry the Piñata: Perry was hit hard over two issues. The first was his executive order mandating that young girls get vaccinated for HPV. Though he admitted he went about it the wrong way and should have allowed parents to make the call, he was hammered by Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum over parental rights. Perry claimed he did it with the best of intentions, but that did not seem to go over well with the crowd. Michele Bachman even hit him with a charge of crony capitalism by pointing out that the vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, paid 5000 dollars to Perry’s campaign. Perry responded by saying he raised for than 30 million dollars for his re-election and joked that he was offended if she thought he could be bought for 5000 dollars. Another issue that Perry was clobbered with was the in-state college tuition that he signed for illegal immigrants. This obviously did not sit well with the conservative crowd and his meek explanation of how it is better for them to go off to college than to be on welfare did not assuage the audience.
Jon Huntsman: It suffices it to say that he’s probably the only candidate who could accuse another of treason and not be relevant enough to have that candidate respond. But he did include a Curt Cobain reference. And don’t forget he rides a motorcycle!
Ron Paul: His performance was typical Ron Paul. But using Osama bin Laden’s words to explain why America’s own actions lead to 9/11 at a Republican debate the day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks managed to make Paul Krugman’s blurb in the New York Times sound like the work of a neocon.
Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich also had a good night. Gingrich had a bunch of pithy answers and it shows that he’s done his homework. However with Perry, Romney, and Bachman all having strong campaigns it’s hard to see how this translates to a significant rise in the polls. Cain also did well and had he not been overshadowed by the slug fest against Rick Perry he might have made progress with his campaign.
Romney, Cain, Gingrich, Bachman, Santorum
Perry, Paul, Huntsman
It’s still early in the game and if Perry can learn to address his positions on the HPV vaccine and illegal immigration as well as he did with Social Security, then he can overcome those liabilities. In the general election, the first two will fade as issues and in particular the in-state tuition bill may actually help him with Latino voters. But then it’s his views Social Security that he has to worry about.
Romney did well simply by not being bludgeoned to death as Rick Perry was. But as Perry continues to defend himself those attacks will lose their force and attention will turn back to Romney’s record in Massachusetts.
Bachman got more attention than in the last debate and landed a few good shots against Rick Perry. She could threaten his lead in Iowa but she’ll need to expand her support in order to compete on a national level.
Rick Perry is still the frontrunner, at least for now.
So who do you think won the debate?
Posted by Max Viscio