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Perry loses the debate; Romney wins but remains unacceptable for conservatives.

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Last night’s debate was not the best debate.  Stylistically, the google & youtube questions were annoying and largely shallow.  Substantively, Perry looked as bad as he ever has with Romney coming out the winner.  This is a huge problem for conservatives.

Rick Perry is on the cusp of becoming the consensus candidate that Romney isn’t.  He is tea-party and establishment.  He is the jobs governor and potentially the best hope we have of being Obama in 2012.  But last night, he was terrible.  He got beat up by Rick Santorum, Bachmann and Romney.  He could not articulate a single position.  He tried to return the favor to Romney on healthcare, immigration, jobs, flip-flopping, etc. and yet Mitt Romney, the largest flip-flopper of modern times, made Perry out to be the flip-flopper.  Perry stumbled, slurred, repeated, tangled, and forgot his lines all night long.  He is (was) the frontrunner, he is going to get attacked.  Every single candidate on stage has to knock him out in order to get anywhere.  The path to victory goes through him.  He is going to have to learn how to deal with it and last night he failed miserably.

Something else Perry must work on, he is wrong on immigration.  He may be “compassionate” but he is also stupid.  I have no problem with amnesty for illegal immigrants coupled with a wall or boots on the ground.  Perry has a great argument against a wall and for troops.  This was the only point in the night where he sounded intelligent.  But there is no responsibility to help educate illegals through in-state tuition.  Texas chose to give breaks to children of illegals and I have no problem with that.  However, it isn’t right and it isn’t smart.  Additionally, it is not as if the son or daughter of an illegal immigrant has two choices, “fall through the cracks” and live off of the government or get in-state tuition from Rick Perry.  There are many other ways to make this work.  Perry needs to alter this message.

Mitt Romney was the beneficiary of Perry’s stumbles last night.  Romney was articulate even when he wasn’t being honest about his record.  He is a good debater, but he is not a conservative.  His attacks on Perry are shameless.  There are appropriate times to attack Governor Perry, there are also appropriate times to allow the moderators to attack the Governor.  This is the second debate where Romney’s attitude has not seemed presidential.  He often seems as whiny and petty as Rick Santorum.

Aside from all of this, Perry is right.  Romney is unfit.  He was for Roe v. Wade before he was against it.  He was against charter schools before he was for it.  He was for gay marriage before he was against it.  He was for Romneycare before he was against Obamacare.  And let’s not forget that technically, Obamacare doesn’t affect those with insurance like Romneycare.  Technically, Obamacare is also a “market-based” plan.  Obama didn’t pass “socialized medicine,” he set up a healthcare exchange with a “public option” or one government plan out of many private plans.  That is as market based as Romneycare.  The Obama administration has admitted that it used Romneycare as a basis for their bill.  Romney signed gay marriage into law in the first U.S. state.  Romney came out in support of Obama’s race to the top education plan.  At the end of the day, it is glaringly clear that Romney is not one of us and he isn’t the best candidate for this position.  As Rick Perry said the night before, he is “Obama-lite” but we need someone that can articulate the case against Romney and so far the only person doing that is Perry and he is failing.

Romney fired more people than he hired in the private sector.

Romney was nothing more than an average RINO governor in Massachusetts.  There is nothing so great about this guy that we need to put him up against as our candidate.  I don’t care if Perry is soft on immigration and tried to mandate a vaccination through executive order.  Romney is the father of socialized medicine in America!  (Follow the Jump for more)

Michele Bachmann had an excellent point when she said that we didn’t need to settle for moderates.  We could elect anyone on that stage so why not get the most out of our mileage.  To do anything else would be stupid.

Besides, evangelicals will not be flocking to vote for Romney.  Anyone who thinks that he is a lock is kidding themselves.  What good are “independents” if you lose evangelicals?  And independents vote for the most exciting candidate (Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, Obama) that amps up their base, not the safest candidate that the base doesn’t even want.  Just because Chris Matthews wouldn’t vote for someone doesn’t mean that candidate is unelectable.  Just because someone isn’t moderate doesn’t mean they are unelectable.  Independent voters want someone who believes in something.  At the end of the day, the media and the left will paint whoever is the candidate out to be way to tea-party or right wing.  So we should accept that and move on.

One more point on Romney.  He is using a scorched Earth policy by attempting to sink Perry on social security.  It is clear that if Perry wins this thing, he will be badly bruised by Romney’s withering lies about how Perry doesn’t want social security and making him answer questions about its constitutionality.  Of course its unconstitutional and Romney knows that, but he is a liar and a snake and he will be anyone if it means he becomes president.  His aspiration knows no bounds.  He has completed transformed himself into someone that is unrecognizable from the Romney that ran for Governor just ten years ago.  The only conservative consensus we should have at this point is — No Romney.

With Perry faltering, Bachmann has a long shot comeback in this race and I welcome it.  Next debate I would like to see more substance.  I would also like to see her go on the offensive against Romney.  She is wrongly ganging up on Perry while benefiting Romney.  She needs to damage him personally and a lot of people would me more willing to support her as the anti-Romney candidate.

Huntsman did well.  There is a lot of economic principles that he has right.  I hope that someone else can make use of his plan.  But as a conservative and a pro-life Christian, I could never vote for him.  He isn’t one of us.  He is an elite and we can do better.

Rick Santorum did surprisingly well and gained exposure at Perry’s expense.  His foreign policy ideas are stupid and we need to get out of the middle east yesterday.  Santorum speaks in talking points and is a neo-con war hawk stuck in a 2003 mentality.  But he was strong in other areas.  He may become a middle-tiered candidate before its all over but he is only hurting our eventual candidate long term.

Finally, Santorum was excellent on the question of homosexuals embracing their sexual identity in the military.  He is right, the military isn’t a place for sexuality to be policy.  The fight isn’t against homosexuals or heterosexuals, but merely against defining oneself by their sexuality.  I thought he answered that question tremendously well.  He just has a irksome debate personality and that may be contributing to his low poll numbers.  Mike Huckabee took the same talking points and won Iowa with them.  Santorum just isn’t that skilled of a television debater.

Gary Johnson performed nervously, but well.  I didn’t know he was a governor and he really sold me that he is the real deal.  Good for him.  But he won’t be the nominee.  This does go to show that Ron Paul’s libertarian ideals are catching on.  Paul used to not even be allowed on the stage, now he is polling third with a new libertarian joining the stage.  I welcome the fight against the neo-cons for control of the party.

All in all, conservatives need either Perry or Bachmann to step it up big time.  It is not just their careers on the line, it is our future and if we truly want conservative ideals, we can’t put another moderated republican in the White House, we can’t have Romney, we must have a conservative.

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