Clearly this is now a race between establishment Republicans and Tea Party Republicans.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has taken a break from campaigning yesterday to be a Governor for few hours, started strong. Perry was particularly strong against his opponents on issues relating to the economy. But the moment the conversation turned to issues like social security, immigration policy, and others, Perry struggled and may have actually lost ground.
Romney gained ground by not losing ground to Perry. Romney looked reasonable and capitalized on Perry's flubs. Perry had a tone that appeals well to the Tea Party extremists, but will not play well to the middle. Romney is exactly the kind of diet soda blandness middle-of-the-roaders look for. His shirt size is probably extra-medium.
Perry is probably going to be regretting a few comments, but will not walk them back. If anything, he'll probably double-down on them. Hyperbole is fine if you are underscoring a point, but if you try to make an assertion of fact using hyperbole, you run in to big problems. Case in point, calling the President an "abject liar" for saying the border region is safe. Perry asserts that its not safe, which has already been fact checked. Crime is lower in border communities than in many others and the alleged "car bombs" going off in El Paso has already been proven to be a lie on the part of Rick Perry.
Perry's biggest mistake was really the Ponzi scheme remark about Social Security. I immediately remembered this famous Tea Party guy:
And of course, this other one:
Perry has to realize that seniors, many on or near Social Security, aren't going to be happy with that remark. Its going to hurt him in Florida, which is an early primary state full of retirees.
But thats not the only thing that should worry Perry supporters about the remark. The remark is going to worry the independents.
Although Mitt Romney may have appeared to sensible, reasonable, and non-extreme for the Republican base.
Ron Paul was disappointing. He was gunning for Perry all night long, but it was almost as though he was holding back from a real punch against Perry.
Paul was much harder on Perry in this campaign commercial:
Bachman was an after thought. Perry stole her thunder. The crazies are now going to follow Rick Perry. Speaking of which, Palin is pretty much out after seeing Perry perform. The xenophobic, homophobic, capitol punishment, Bible thumper extremist crazies are officially spoken for.
Rick Santorum, the really conservative social conservative of the group didn't even get a chance to talk about the stuff he likes, like God and hating gay people. The debate was surprisingly absent of social value topics.
Herman Cain, the former pizza guy kept changing numbers on us, there was something about giving God 10%, then the 9-9-9 plan, that turned in to the 8-8-8 plan. I thought it was some sort of complicated pizza deal from back in the day. Remember the regular price, 4 bucks, 4 bucks?
Jon Huntsman. The most intelligent, logical, eloquent, and sensible of the Republican candidates. He is probably the biggest threat to winning over independents and Democrats in a general election against the President. But because he's the most intelligent, logical, eloquent, and sensible of the Republican candidates, he therefore has no chance at the nomination.
I tweeted at the start of the debate that a fun drinking game for people watching the debate would be to watch the debate and take a shot every time one of the candidates invoked the ghost of Ronald Reagan. That was really irresponsible of me. If someone had done that, they would be a UMC for alcohol poisoning.