Perry the target at GOP Tea Party debate
For the privilege of being the frontrunner, Rick Perry is going to have to endure 4 more pastings like this one.
If a debate more than four months before the first vote is cast can influence the outcome of a presidential nomination race, the debate last night among eight Republicans should aid Mitt Romney's candidacy. Seldom has there been as clear a winner.
Romney was crisp and succinct, prepared and focused, and aggressive in going after his chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Texas governor Rick Perry, when he needed to be. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, showed once again that he's a far better candidate now than he was four years ago.
He did well in these instances, among others: spelling out the differences between the health care plan he championed in Massachusetts and Obamacare; explaining the problem with the Fair Tax is that it gives short shrift to the middle class; pointing out the built-in advantages Perry has in Texas in governing successfully; and refraining from boasting, except to say that "if America needs a turnaround, that's what I do."
Romney challenged Perry on Social Security at the outset of the debate, which was held in Florida and billed as a collaboration of CNN and various Tea Party organizations. It was Tea Party people who asked the questions, mostly better ones than a panel of reporters or pundits would probably have asked.
I wouldn't be as gushy as Fred in my analysis but Romney was a clear winner. It's also clear that Perry has some work to do. While doing better this time out in answering tough questions, the Texas governor still sounds a little unsure of himself on a few issues - including the tuition for illegals issue.
Romney had some slip ups himself which shows the true value of these debates; exposing weaknesses before taking on Obama allows the candidate to prepare detailed responses to tough questions. You can recite a telephone book in response to a tough question and as long as you sound confident and non-evasive, the public generally won't hold it against you.
Once again, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum appeared to get the short end of the questioning. Both candidates, while doing well last night, are going to have to find another way besides the debates to get back into the race.
Newt, Huntsman, Cain, and Ron Paul did nothing to help themselves.
All in all, a good night for Republicans