Thursday, September 8, 2011

The GOP Presidential Debate Recap

Wednesday's GOP debate in Simi Vally, California at the Ronald Reagan library marked the first time that Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the stage with the rest of the Republican Presidential hopefuls, and the dynamic created a noticeable difference between this debate and the previous debate in New Hampshire that we blogged about HERE.  Whereas the previous debate boiled down to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party Caucus Chair Michelle Bachmann, last night's debate was certainly dominated by the slick talkin', Texas Southern accent twangin', non-question-answerin' Perry.  Mr. "Audios Mofo" himself.  When the other 7 candidates weren't busy bashing President Obama (which made up for about 90% of their stand up material) they were focused on taking shots at the Texas front runner.

Our Winners and Losers after the Jump:



WINNERS:


Rick Perry - Gov. of Texas
No surprise here.  Rick Perry is a Republican among Republicans.  He came into the debate as the front runner, and he left the debate as the front runner because nobody (save Romney) was able to land a punch on the guy.  He threw red meat talking points out onto the crowd and had them dancing to his tune as if he were the Pied Piper himself; at one point he even had the crowd cheering - yes literally cheering - for the fact that Texas kills more people on death row than any other state in the country (no BS). You could gather from his smug Texas twang that he was self-assured in his position as the front runner, even as he brushed his shoulders off at attacks on his state's shortcomings in education and health coverage.  He almost made it out of the woods gaffe-free but about an hour into the debate he made the most controversial statement of the evening when he attacked Social Security and called it a "Ponzi Scheme." Romney quickly capitalized on the mistake, stating that the GOP needs to nominate somebody who will fix Social Security rather than destroy it.

Mitt Romney - Businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts
Romney, who enjoyed the front runner status at the previous debate, was noticeably disturbed by the fact that he was playing catch-up to Gov. Perry all night long.  To be sure, he got his talking points in, but they seemed a bit rushed at times and not as polished as he has been over the previous months.  One of his talking points failed to pass the sniff test when boasted that "We created more jobs in Massachusetts than this President has created in the entire country."  Actually, when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts between January 2003 and January 2007, 48,500 jobs were created.  Obama's stimulus program, on the other hand, has created between 1.0 million and 2.9 million jobs according to the CBO.  Not even close.  However, Romney still projected that he is the GOP's strongest General Election candidate next to Jon Huntsman.  Romney wasted no time throwing a few counter punches against Gov. Perry when Perry, attempting to belittle Romney's job growth record in Massachusetts, quipped "Michael Dukakis created jobs 3 times faster than you did, Mitt."  Romney, searching through his mental cheat sheet on Perry, quickly fired back with "Well as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor."  Nevertheless, Romney did manage to establish himself as the George Foreman to Perry's Muhammad Ali, relegating the other 6 candidates into what will likely be an unshakeable second-tier status from this point forward unless something significant happens to shake up the race.


 LOSERS:

Michelle Bachmann - Minnesota Congresswoman
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  As we all know, in politics your luck can change faster than a New York minute, and nobody personifies this phenomenon more aptly than Michelle Bachmann.  When we tuned into the last debate, Bachmann was "new hotness."  Now she's just "old and busted."  Bachmann's stock plummeted faster than America's credit rating after the debt ceiling debate....which, incidentally, her Tea Party Caucus was largely responsible for creating.  The cause of Bachmann's fall from grace can be summed up in one word:  Perry.  Ever since the Texas Governor has entered the race, the GOP base has tipped its hand in an unmistakeable manner that calls into question just how far the party has "progressed" (no pun intended) over the years. As it turns out, the Republican base still loves to hear the exact same Tea Party rhetoric that Michelle Bachmann has consistently delivered since she first arrived on the Presidential scene...but they'd rather hear it coming from a man than hear it coming from woman.  Go figure.

Jon Huntsman - Former Utah Governor & Ambassador to China
Is he electable?  Yes.  Could he beat Obama in 2012?  Yes.  Will the GOP give him the nod?  Of course not!   Make no mistakes about it, as a former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, U.S. Ambassador to China, and Governor of the State of Utah...the GOP's most viable General Election candidate - even more viable than his fellow Mormon brethren Mitt Romney - is Jon Huntsman.  And, to keep it one hunnid, he actually made one helluva case for himself during last night's debate.  So you may be wondering why we have him listed in the "Losers" category.  Because, despite his general election credentials, Huntsman will never make it out of the Republican primary.  The GOP won't run him primarily for three reasons: (i) he's not a Christian, (ii) part of his service as Ambassador to China was under the Obama Administration, and most importantly (iii) he has the au-da-ci-tyyyyyyyy to tell the truth about the Republican Party [gasp].  Since we likely will not have the opportunity of writing about Mr. Huntsman anymore after tonight, we'd like to provide the full text of the quote that singlehandedly eliminated his chances of EVER receiving the Republican nod:
"Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I am saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win we can't run from science.  We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy.  We've got to win voters.  We've got to do what I did as Governor when I was re-elected: we reached out and we brought in independents. I got independents.  I got conservative democrats.  If we're gonna win in 2012, we've gotta make sure that we have somebody who can win based upon numbers of the math that will get us there.  And by making comments that basically don't reflect the reality of the situation, we turn people off."

THE "WHY ARE THEY STILL HERE?" CATEGORY:

Ron Paul - Texas Congressman
Ok Mr. Paul, it was fun while it lasted but seriously, what are you still doing here?  Yes, sure, we know that you've raised a considerable amount of money and that's all well and good, but it's not going to happen. 

Rick Santorum - U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania
Honestly, about halfway through the debate I seriously forgot that the guy was still running for President.  At one point after Perry, Romney, Bachmann and Huntsman had dominated the conversation for a good half hour, the camera cut over to Santorum and I had to do a double take like "where the hell did that guy come from?  Has he been on stage this whole time?"  Once again, Santorum did nothing that helped to distinguish or elevate his standing among the 8 GOP candidates.  Time to go the way of the T-Paw, good sir.

Newt Gingrich - former Speaker of the House
So you're not interested in the moderators' attempts to get Republicans to fight other Republican, are you?  Well guess what, Newt - we're not interested in anything you had to say anyway.  His only memorable applause line of the evening came when he commended the other candidates on collectively opposing Obama.  Congratulations: you got a room full of Republicans to applaud other Republicans for opposing Obama.  Be sure to add that to your resume of lifetime accomplishments.
Herman Cain - Businessman 
And once again coming in dead last, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Cain had a few nuggets for the crowd, such as his 9-9-9 tax program that would lower every person and every corporation's tax rate to 9%, and his suggestion to copy the privatized pension plan of the nation of Chile.  At this point, however, with a popular White male Tea Party candidate (from Texas no doubt) supplying the Republican base with all of the talking points that it needs, there simply isn't any demand for a Black conservative selling the same product.




What were your takeaways from the Debate?
Who were the biggest Winners or Losers?

[ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE URBAN POLITICO]
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