Yesterday I predicted that Rick Perry wouldn’t wait for his opponents to ring his phone, but instead he would come out swinging. He did so aggressively.
But Perry was so prone to inaccurate statements (El Paso, global warming science, Social Security ponzi scheme, etc.) that the debate is not likely to help him much. But he was aggressive, spunky, didn’t noticeably falter until the second half, and got his sound bytes in. At least in the short term, the debate is unlikely to hurt him.
Regrettably, modest advantage Perry.
But Romney did well too, and his camp thinks they’re onto something, and they may be right. The “Ponzi scheme” comment is a deal-killer for Perry, they think. That may be an over-statement, but I do agree that it’s a serious tactical blunder for Perry and his campaign.
Social Security reform is an issue that gets Republicans nowhere – just ask George W. Bush. Worse for Perry, the issue is a distraction that removes Perry from his “Texas jobs and economy” message. I fail to see how this helps Perry, and if I squint my eyes a bit, I can see where it hurts him over time, even with Republican primary voters. Even though they hate them some gu’mint programs, virtually all voters can see the value in Social Security, and get insecure in a hurry when Republicans start talking about changing it.
A few other debate notes:
— Bachmann is in deep trouble. Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago she emerged the winner in the Iowa Straw Poll? Perry’s entry into the race seems to have knocked her completely off her game, and last night she got so lost in the crowd that she should have left bread crumbs to find her way out. Last night’s debate established a top tier, and she’s out of it. It’s Romney and Perry at this point.
— Huntsman had a pretty good night. However, his good night is mostly noticeable when compared with his previous really bad nights in previous debates. There is not enough oxygen in the top tier to support three candidates, so until Perry or Romney falter, I don’t know that it does Huntsman much good in the short term. But at least he stays in the game, limping along until New Hampshire.
— Ron Paul is (still) out of his league. In a stage with ten candidates, nine were articulate. Paul, the odd man out, alternated between channeling Jerry Lewis (the comedian in the old movies, not the old dude on the telethon), Jimmy Stewart, and George Burns. Paul can’t be ignored because he will always have his relatively high core constituency. But “the other Texan” will never score a win, because he has a low ceiling of support.
— What’s up with Newt? I had frankly forgotten he was still a candidate until last night. He was surprisingly good, running for second place. He ignored his opponents, and instead debated the debate moderators and the mainstream media. He scored points – to be somebody else’s VP pick. He’s still going nowhere as a Presidential candidate in his own right.
— What’s up with Republicans? Wildly applauding Texas putting to death over 200 people? Regardless of your personal views over the death penalty, that was a low rent moment. You just can’t take ’em anywhere.
We’ll undoubtedly talk more about last night’s debate, as well as other issues on YNN’s Capital Tonight, live on Austin TV this evening beginning at
6 7. Join us if you can.
Update: Capital Tonight will begin at 7 tonight, immediately following the President’s job speech.