The Republican debate last night was quite entertaining, and gave a peek of what is to come in the next few months. Some observations:
Michelle Bachmann was invisible. Most analysis gives her low marks, not because of anything she said, but because she seemed to just not be a part of the flow. Some of that is attributable to the moderator bias to gravitate towards Perry/Romney, but she did nothing to get in the fight. For me she was the biggest loser of the night.
Mitt Romney did a very good job, in my opinion. The question is where are Republicans these days? Mitt is still running a general election campaign, offering Republican voters a more mainstream, buttoned down candidate who does not reject science, wants to save Social Security, and says that President Obama may be a fine person. Do the Republican primary voters prefer this approach? Or…
Rick Perry did a good job, in particular at the start, of mixing it up with Romney. But he savaged Social Security, offering no assurances to go with his denunciation of the program as a “ponzi scheme”. Perry badly fumbled the global warming question, showing an inability to articulate a coherent position. The question at issue was “has human activity contributed to global warming”? Perry wanted to talk about the fact that he disagrees with the solutions proposed by many Democrats to the problem, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was simply the science. I think Perry’s answers, notwithstanding my own criticism, appeal to many Republicans. He gave a solid answer on the death penalty (audience cheering at the mention of the many Texas executions shows where the Republican primary voters are), and his advocating blunt language will also have Republican appeal.
Can Perry be a good general election candidate? Romney is going to be selling hard on the
electability issue. Will the Republican primary voter go with their heads, or hearts? It is a two man race here, with all due respect to the other candidates. Still intrigued by the media fascination with Jon Huntsman. He has gotten more media attention than any other candidate in history polling at 1% for months. When Herman Cain is trouncing you in the polls it is time to accept reality.