Friday, September 23, 2011

Last Night At The Debate

Last night saw yet another Republican debate. Who won? Who lost? Who should quit now? And a couple surprise thoughts! All this and more will be yours in this very special episode of Last Night At The Debate.

Winner: Romney came across as confident and conservative. He ran to the right of Perry on immigration and states rights. He had a solid control of the facts and some seriously pithy moments. For example, he latched onto one of Perry’s backtracks and said: “there’s a Rick Perry out there saying [the opposite of what you just said,] you better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that.” Everyone laughed and Perry had no idea how to respond. Romney won a lot of people last night.

Winner: The Hermanator was brilliant. He’s got a strong set of ideas and a compelling personality. His 9/9/9 plan is so well designed from a marketing perspective that it’s the only plan anyone remembers. His discussion of his cancer truly personalized why ObamaCare needs to go. His attack on the EPA “regulating dust” was one of the best received moments all night. And he offered a strong, clear and moral foreign policy. He not only had a command of the issues, he had a commanding presence. Cain should leapfrog Bachmann and maybe Perry if Perry falls as far as seems likely.

Toast: Put a fork in Rick Perry, he’s done. Seriously. . . he’s the Hindenburg of candidates. Perry came across like he was drugged. He looked intimidated and sleepy. He sounded pissy. He never answered a single question, choosing instead to make whining attacks on Romney. All that was missing was Nixonian sweat to make the total implosion complete. I honestly expect this debate finished him. Consider these self-inflicted wounds:

● He stands by giving illegal aliens instate college rates. Perry tried to argue these people would be an economic burden unless they got education. Then Santorum slapped him down by pointing out that Perry was subsidizing illegals at rates people in the other 56 states can’t get. Zap.

● Perry tried to claim opponents of subsidizing illegal aliens “have no heart.” Well, f@#$ you, sir. Frank Lutz’s focus group HATED that.

● Perry had a couple good attacks on Romney but they fell flat because he kept tripping over his words. All night, he sounded a lot like Bush when Bush got into trouble in debates.

● Perry’s attempt to dodge his horrid answer on Social Security was a disaster. Now he claims he was only talking about creating state programs for government workers rather than privatizing the whole system. . . which Romney pointed out isn’t what Perry said in his book.
Loser: Fox News. The acoustics were horrible, like the debate was held in a cave. Everything echoed and was hard to hear. Their format was horrible and created a dull, disjointed debate: (1) they asked individual questions of candidates, which prevented any sort of back and forth, and (2) they took so long getting to each you all but forgot about people. And they wasted time on stupid and confusing Google promotions. CNN made Fox look like amateurs.

Toast: Michele Bachmann all but vanished last night, and she had problems. In particular, they re-opened the vaccine wound by questioning her story about the Gardasil vaccine causing retardation in a 12 year old. She tried to distance herself from that by claiming she was just repeating what she had been told -- not a good answer. She was also asked why she avoided answering a question at the last debate about how much of a person’s income they should be allowed to keep. She responded first by saying she wanted to answer and her answer would have been “all of it” (implying a 0% tax rate). Then she immediately said that “of course” some of it is needed to run the government. . . and then she dodged the question a second time.

Winner/Loser: Gary Johnson had a couple good moments, including the best line of the night: “my neighbor’s dog has produced more shovel-ready jobs than this administration.” BUT he came across as highly uncomfortable and he said he would cut the military budget by 43%, which probably kills him. He’s like a less refined, less smooth version of Ron Paul.

Winner: Ron Paul not only gave some brilliant answers (and some paranoid ones), but he easily fended off the possibility that Johnson would replace him with the Paul crowd. The USS Ron Paul sails on.

Winner: Newt continues to impress. His answers are smart and workable. He reminded people that he balanced the budget and millions of jobs were created when he was Speaker. He’s pushing states’ rights strongly and he focuses on Obama.

Winner: Joe Sixpack. Once again, the questions from the audience were great (except for one whiner from Michigan). I love Americans.

Loser: Santorum collapsed on the don’t ask don’t tell repeal. Not only did he seem scared to even talk about gays, but he ended up suggesting the policy had to be put back in place to protect the military. . . except he would allow those currently in the military to stay. Huh? Basically, he lost both sides.

Winner: Bev. Bev nominated herself for Vice President and that seems to have gone over well with Commentarama fans.

Interesting Thought: At one point, Romney seemed to flirt with Cain. . . no, not in that way. This raises the suggestion of a Romney/Cain ticket. That might be enough to win over conservatives to Romney. Let’s see if there are any signs of a follow up.

Thoughts? Predictions?

P.S. Thanks to T-Rav and everyone else who participated last night. You all made a rather dull debate much more entertaining.


AndrewPrice said...

Let me add something about whiner boy last night who wanted to keep Obamacare because he had no idea how he, a mere student, could get healthcare for a heart condition.

I just spent my whole day at the hospital talking to the finance people (literally just got back). They wanted to see if I qualify for "indigent care" because I don't have insurance.

As crazy as that sounds, it was shocking to hear how much income you can earn while still getting a free ride from the state or the hospital charity itself. There were three different levels that went all the way up to $46k of income (plus assets).... and that figure is after you subtract the medical bills themselves (which is why they thought I might qualify).

No student has more income and assets than that. So this kid could go to the hospital and get on their indigent program and get free care without having to ruin health care for every one else.

Tam said...

I missed the debate, but I remember in the Bush-Kerry debates, Bush had an especially bad first debate. He looked like Perry apparently did last night, but rallied in the next one. Do you think Perry can come back? I'm no Perry devotee, but I'm not thrilled with Romney as the front runner either. I am a conservative who would be won over if there was a Romney-Cain ticket. What would really make me swoon would be Cain-Rubio.

Tam said...

P.S. I want some people to just go away so we can get serious.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Several people I know said that exact thing -- it's time to clear out some of these people so we can get serious. And last night really did highlight the problem with having so many people on stage at once -- it was slow and disjointed.

On Perry... hmm. I honestly don't know.

On the one hand, Perry was in trouble even before the debate. He came out of the gates with such huge expectations and he didn't really live up to them. Then things started coming out about him which people didn't like. That seemed to stop his momentum dead. In effect, I think he has become a victim of his own expectations. I suspect last night will have cemented the trend and finished him off.

That said, anything is possible. And if he gets a lot of solid soundbites over the next few weeks and then redeems himself at the next debate, he could pull it out.

But if I had to put money on it, I would bet that he's done and will fade fast.

Let's see what other people think?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I have to admit that Romney/Cain would be very attractive.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I agree with all your points. I don't think it's fair to simply label Bachmann a "loser," at least not entirely through her own actions, since she wasn't given a lot of questions, but either way she was simply background noise. I'm guessing the next poll will have her behind Cain and maybe Gingrich.

I don't think last night definitely ended Perry's bid, since he no doubt has the resources and connections to stay in for quite some time, but he's really scuttled his chances. I won't say it's impossible for him to win the nomination, but it's highly unlikely.

And yeah, what was with Fox News and that acoustics nightmare of theirs? Ugh.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm not labeling Bachmann as a loser as a judgment on her the person. I'm saying that I think she lost big last night -- whether it was her fault or not.

On Perry, let me clarify that too -- I'm not saying he drops out tomorrow. He has a lot of resources, but I think his chances of winning are dramatically reduced.

I don't know what Fox's problem was. Didn't they do sound checks? Didn't they watch the CNN debate to see what worked? I'd be embarrassed if I were them.

Individualist said...


I thought it interesting that Cain compared himself to Romney in the first round of questions asked of him. He knew that by mentioning Romney he would get 30 seconds rebuttal to speak. Seemed to coincidental to me.

I am a little disappointed if this means Cain is siding with Romeny just in case he falls behind. I really think if he made strides he could do well in Iowa and New Hampshire although they probably are not "His" states in that sense.

I don't mind Romney but I really feel the day of compromise is done. If the GOP has any chance of reversing course they have to find a way to defeat the left this time and not give them an opportunity to make "doing nothing" the Right Wing position.

We will see..... I still feel the real fight is in the House and the Senate. Tea Party Conservatives have to become a dominating force so that real reform can be legislated. Otherwise it will be, "Hey, we kept Obama Care but we shaved off a % of the savings and kept it from being worse".

I'll admit I am pessimistic about acheiving it but we have to do it or esle I think....

I loved Herman Cain, he thwarted the SSN privatization scare of the left by pointing to its success in 30 other countries. Brilliant!!

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I think Cain's "adopt Chile's plan" is brilliant. Some conservatives have been saying that for years. And unlike those who say "privatize" which sounds like an unknown, when you say "do what they did" you can point to how it worked. That's a great way to convince people -- to show them that it worked somewhere else.

It sounds like your concern with Romney is the same concern I have -- that he's the type of guy who wants to cut deals to make everyone happy. That will not work with the Democrats in D.C. They are simply too destructive. But honestly, he's still a lot better than Obama and he's better than some of the others on stage -- though he isn't my first choice.

I like Cain a lot and his presence on any ticket would mean a lot to me. So if he and Romney have cut a deal, then Romney was very smart. But I would also say that Cain is being smart because that puts him in line to become President in 2016 if Romney loses or 2020 if Romney wins. It makes a lot of sense.

On the house and Senate, I agree -- that's where the real fight will come. There is a lot a President can do, but we need to control the legislative process to deliver on many of the things we want.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, to be clear, I don't think we actually disagree on this. Whether or not Bachmann's failure was really her fault, she still failed last night. And Perry still shot himself in the foot, however long he stays in the race.

One thing I was wondering about last night: Given how the two people to really claim the Tea Party leadership have now reached "stick a fork in 'em" status, does that create an opening for someone else to jump in? Palin? Christie? (maybe still) Ryan?

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: As much as I love being contentious, I pretty much agree with everything you said.

I do want to say something about Romney from my own personal point of view. As I've said many, many times on this blog, he is far from my first choice. But he has talents that we are very much going to need in the general election. Regardless of what people think, Obama will not be a pushover by the time the election comes along. A good Republican candidate could win by a landslide. A bad one, with single-issues, an inability to clearly state his views and defend them, or who holds doctrinaire political stances, could lose. So far, Romney has shown the ability to handle himself well in every situation.

So just to get it out of the way, Romney is not a RINO, and he is only loosely attached to the DC in-crowd. He is too moderate for my tastes but there are two other branches of government, and we need to win both houses of Congress and prepare for future nominations to the Supreme Court. This nation simply cannot survive another four years of Obama. A conservative Republican Congress would undoubtedly pull Romney farther to the right, and hold the Senate power of Supreme Court confirmation in their hands.

I am a long way from endorsing Romney (or anyone, during the primary season). But so far, he has been the most statesman-like, the strongest experienced advocate of free market economics, and the most willing to admit when he's made a mistake. Last night's debate is hardly the final word, but Romney came off looking like a realistic candidate, Perry came off looking like a stroke victim, and the rest neither gained nor lost my respect. Romney/Cain is beginning to sound like a winning ticket to me, but we have a long way to go.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yeah, I think we are in agreement.

I originally had Paul Ryan listed as a winner because he now has a second opportunity to jump in. But I don't think he'll take it, so I left that out.

If Palin wanted to jump in, now would be the time. Her biggest competitors are flaming out and that only leaves Herman Cain and Romney standing in her way. I just don't believe she wants to run. Also she is now facing a poll that says 70% of the GOP does not want her run. But it's hard to tell how serious that is unless she jumps in.

All in all, I think Palin has an opportunity to jump in, but I don't think she'll take it. Ditto on Ryan.

On Christie, I honestly don't know. A lot of conservatives love him (for whatever reason) and he is definitely flirting with it. So it's hard to say. But I would bet our field is set. If anyone jumps in, expect Giuliani.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree with you 100% on everything. I actually don't know what to add except, well said!

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, I have to (grudgingly) agree. One thing some conservative commentators have pointed out about the debate is that Romney made (and has been making) the stronger federalist argument, saying, in effect, "RomneyCare was good for MA, but it wouldn't be good for America, so I won't try to implement it as President." It wasn't good for Massachusetts, and I'm not sure I think he's being sincere here, but on a basic level it makes sense, and it's a reasoning a lot of people can accept. Perry, on the other hand, justified the TX DREAM Act by saying that It Was The Right Thing To Do, Darn It! Not only is the policy itself bound to play badly among GOP primary voters anyway, but that's a terrible justification, and it makes him come off as a Texas version of Obama. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the point. That sentiment may have hurt him as much as anything else did.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, As I said last night, Romney was saying a lot of the right things, was making solid conservative points, was making them well, and came across as a very solid debater. I was honestly impressed. It doesn't necessarily fit his record, but I have to admit I am less uncomfortable with him now.

patti said...

andrew: i think that dog "shovel-ready" line is rush's. not sure, but i heard him say that before the debate.

AndrewPrice said...

patti, Really? That would be a little sad if he stole that line. Still, I don't think he made himself relevant last night, so ultimately it doesn't matter.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Chris Christie has his positive points, particularly when it comes to teachers unions. But just as I voted for George Bush because of his judicial appointments to the Supreme Court, I would be totally unable to vote for Christie for President (even if it meant voting for an independent and risking another Obama term). Christie appointed a sharia-compliant Muslim to the state's superior court bench. Not only a Muslim, but a supporter of Hamas. It indicates a total disrespect for Anglo-American jurisprudence and the Constitution.

The bench is located in Passaic, which has the largest Palestinian population in the U.S. His reasoning was that a Muslim judge could better understand the legal problems of sharia-compliant Palestinians. That means that Christie clearly does not understand the concept of American constitutional civil courts which judge all Americans equally, under the same laws, and in the same manner. Imagine what would happen to the Supreme Court if Christie became President. Kiss the Constitution good-bye. Appointing a judge who is incidentally Muslim is one thing. Appointing one because he's a Muslim is quite another. It's a slap in the face of the First Amendment. This is not a minor detour on the conservative road. It is a major disqualification.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: As I've mentioned before, even the best are entitled to their mistakes. The example I used was Ronald Reagan signing California's first therapeutic abortion bill when he was governor. Reagan's state abortion bill was Romney's state health care bill. The only thing that remains to be seen is if Romney can overcome his mistake the way Reagan did. Clearly, Romney does not want a national health care bill, and his defense of his prior action was a sound explication of the 10th Amendment and the history of states as the crucibles of experimentation.

Perry's defense of the Texas DREAM Act was about as lame as it could have been. Part of the problem is that on all levels except "open borders" it is indefensible. Heart-rending stories and tales of model illegal immigrants simply has nothing to do with why a citizen of Mexico should pay Texas in-state tuition when a citizen of any of the other 49 states has to pay the much higher tuition charged to out-of-state residents. "That dog won't hunt," as they say in Texas.

DUQ said...

Excellent breakdown Andrew. I'm sorry I missed it, but it sounds like Commentarama had it well covered.

I hope Cain gets a boost of this, I really do.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I heard several people today saying Rush originally made the crack about the dogs. Oh well. Nice try anyway, Johnson.

Ed said...

I watched at a friend's house and I agree, Perry is toast. He was horrible. The others were just kicking him over and over he just stood there.

AndrewPrice said...

UPDATE: Christie said today that (paraphrase) "those people aren't answering the right questions so maybe I need to run."

Yes, run... run home and stay there.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, as much as I like those YouTube clips of Christie bashing the unions, that should not happen, ever. I could--maybe--get behind him as a VP pick, if it was understood that he would not run for Pres. But that would probably not be possible as a condition, and frankly, I don't see what real value comes from having him on the bottom of the ticket, anyway. So forget I said anything (even though I'm still going to post this comment).

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree entirely on Christie, he does not understand the constitution. Moreover, as we said way way way back in the piece on him, he's going out of his way to appoint far left Democrats when the didn't have to. The man is a true danger to conservatism.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk and T-Rav, On Perry, there's an interesting article about the betting on whether or not he can. Apparently his odds have just collapses overnight.

Here's the link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Thanks! We had a good time. The debate was ok, but the commentary was a lot of fun.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's really bad form on his part. I think that won't help him. And since he didn't come across as an obvious heir to Ron Paul, I suspect we won't hear much from him in the future.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, The consensus is definitely that Perry didn't do well last night.

What I find equally interesting right now is that I'm seeing almost no mention of Cain, Bachmann, Newt or the rest today. It's like they all vanished.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Already forgotten! :)

I agree, I see nothing good to be gained from choosing Christie and MUCH to be lost.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's interesting. I'd read something about that earlier, but that graph makes it very vivid.

They need to be talking about Cain more. Why some of the more mainstream outlets aren't, I don't know, but I suspect a lot of the blogs had already hitched themselves to Romney or Perry, especially Perry, and now that he's all but self-destructed, they're so bitter they won't admit it might be time to cast about for another candidate.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It is very vivid with the graph. If that was a stock, then you would be bailing out.

I think conservatives need to come up with a game plan fast because splitting between 4-5 conservative candidates is only letting the moderates choose the nominee.

I'd like to see more people start talking about alternatives, but unfortunately too many bloggers do pick their favorites and never bother looking any further... which is how some conservatives support Christie.

rlaWTX said...

totally off topic: just watched CSI: NY's season premiere - and can I just say that I love Gary Sinise! Check out the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance...

and @#$% Bloomberg's party w/o first responders...

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Sinise does what Hollywood should. I think he's great.

Bloomberg is a turd.

StanH said...

The Georgia boys did well again Gingrich – Cain. As far as Romney is concerned I voted for him in ’08, but it was by default. If he becomes that man who in his withdrawal speech in ’08 was awesome, (look it up if you can it was killer conservatism) the great Ronald Reagan was standing and saluting in heaven. And your thought of adding Cain to the ticket would be awesome. As far as Perry, they should have stopped the debate, and pulled him off the stage, that was terrible. I still want Palin to get in for the freak out factor, she’ll tear into Barry like a pit-bull on a piece of raw meat, a woman scorned and all, I like her. Oh, let Newt Gingrich be the brain, you have to admit he has an indisputable grasp of the issues, and could help in many ways.

Bev for VP, I like it!

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Georgia is indeed giving quite an impressing showing!

Newt has proven that he in fact is a very smart man. I hope whoever ends up President makes use of his skills.

Romney is interesting to me because a lot of what he says is truly conservative. My problem still is that I don't know that I believe he believes it. I hope he does, and if he governs that way, he would make a heck of a President. But if he's just pulling our leg, then this would be a blown opportunity.

If Palin jumps in, the media will go insane and the Democrats will get microphone rash from spending so much time trying to snuggle up to one to attack her. It would be interesting.

Bev for VP would be pretty cool. :)

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Stan, I thought that too -- if this had been a prize fight, they would have stopped the fight halfway through.

Tennessee Jed said...

I'm late to the debate (pun intended) I have never felt good about Perry for some reason. Romney is growing in stature. Is he a real conservative? Probably not. Is he the guy most likely to beat Obama given the current field? Probably yes. Can I live with him? Most definitively. Do I want Newt on the ticket? Not really, but I want him as a policy advisor for damn sure. Cold and crass as this sounds, I think Romney absolutely needs Marco Rubio on the ticket. The prince in waiting, the annoited successor. I don't like to classify Americans, but there is some reality involved. Hispanics dig Perry. Rubio might counter some of that. I won't count Perry out . . . yet, but it will be interesting to see the next poll.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, The sad truth is that ethnic politics still matter. And since Romney is taking a fairly hard stand on illegals, picking Rubio might help him with Hispanics. I don't like that kind of math, but I can't deny that it is a relevant consideration in America today. And Rubio would be a solid choice among conservatives as well.

On Perry, I don't absolutely rule him out. I've seen too many wild things happen in politics to say that. But I think he's put himself in a really deep hole from which he may not be able to escape without something truly unexpected.

AndrewPrice said...

Washington Examiner has an article saying that Perry's support in a Florida straw poll is shifting to Herman Cain!


T-Rav said...

Andrew, the results from Florida are in. Not only is that "shifting toward Herman Cain" thing true, it's a huge understatement:

Cain 37 PERCENT (!!!!!)
Perry 15
Romney 14
Santorum 11
Paul 10
Gingrich 8
Huntsman 2
Bachmann 1 (Ouch)

Morgan Freeman hardest hit.

AndrewPrice said...

Holy cow!! That's stunning. I hope this forces the media to start treating Cain seriously.

I think that also tells us that Bachmann is finished.

Of course, that is not a scientific poll, but it is still an indication of how the candidates are doing with the activists.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, the sites I read said that most of the voters were ready to cast their ballots for Perry before the debate, but that shocked them into reconsidering. Just goes to show, these things do matter, annoying as they sometimes are.

I also read that Romney may have had some of his people vote for Cain at the last minute to pump him up against Perry. I consider this as underhanded as when it was done to him by McCain and Huckabee, back in '08; more importantly, though, assuming that did in fact happen, if Romney had held on to those votes, Perry might have come in third. It's amazing, the differences a couple weeks make.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think Perry is done. He was a shooting star. He showed up, light up the sky and then promptly crashed. This should cement that because this sort of proves that people abandoned him. Once people start heading for the doors, they don't go back.

If Romney did that, then he's smart -- though he should have kept enough to beat Perry. That was a mistake that he came in third. Still, people won't remember where he placed in this one, they're only going to remember that Cain took out Perry.

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