Rick Perry is a Honorable Man & Other Notes from the Debate.
Look, I have not been the most complimentary of Rick Perry or his supporters, but I have got to say that while I am still supporting Newt. I think Perry proved to be an incredibly honorable guy.
While the other candidates on the stage punted or attacked Newt over the question about Newt Gingrich’s comments about whether or not Palestinians are a made up people, Gov. Perry stood up for Speaker Gingrich and let America know that the real problem with foreign policy is President Obama’s foreign policy. Perry’s nod to Gingrich signaled to me that he’s got Newt’s back. That is an incredibly honorable thing to do and set Perry apart for me tonight.
As someone who did not have a very high opinion of Perry before as a candidate, I can say that he has risen a few notches in my book after this debate. On top of that, Perry gave his personal best performance of the campaign. He tied with Newt to win this.
As for Newt Gingrich, I think considering they came out with guns blazing he did very well answering to the charges without resorting to petty personal attacks. The one “attack” he did level out what putting Mitt Romney in his place and he did it very well using facts and not getting personal. He handled the questions on fidelity well, admitting that it is a consideration people have to make when choosing a leader and admitting he hasn’t handled this well. For all the talk of Evangelicals being appalled at Newt’s personal life, people also forget that two of the chief tenants of Christianity are grace and humility. The fact that Newt seems genuinely remorseful and open about his personal failures might actually make Evangelicals in Iowa more sympathetic to him. Newt did well, not his best performance, but as I said before, he co-won the debate with Perry.
It was interesting to hear from Rick Santorum, seeing as Herman Cain is now out of the race and Huntsman was busy in New Hampshire (more on that later!) Look, if this were 2004 and President Bush wasn’t running for re-election, I think Santorum would be a candidate for the times. But this is 2011, not 2004, and the conservative movement is in a much different place than it was back then. Santorum talks about his consistent conservatism, but he was a big government social conservative for much of his career in the senate, going along with much of the Bush agenda.
Michele Bachmann went on the attack tonight. Unfortunately, much of what she said was either blatantly out of context or simply untrue. I like Bachmann, She has got a massive future in the Republican Party and could potentially be our nominee sometime in the future. But she should heed Newt’s advice and not resort to out of context remarks and half-truths to get her point across. I believe that if she promoted her agenda with as much passion as she goes on the attack with the other candidates she would be doing a lot better than she is right now.
Ron Paul’s good when he’s good. But he’s not going to be the nominee.
Mitt Romney gave his absolute WORST Performance of the entire election cycle tonight. He came off defensive, irritated, and very unlikable as a person. His $10,000 bet with Governor Perry in front of a nation struggling to make ends meat was completely tone deaf. It wasn’t the figure per say, it was the way he said it, like it was $10, like it was nothing. You could see Governor Perry couldn’t even believe it.
Two interesting things happened tonight, one on stage and one off. Mitt Romney was clearly out of his element tonight, facing off against five much more conservative candidates in a state that is probably too conservative for him to win in a caucus. Following the debate, Donna Brazille noted the phrase that is going to flying around is “consistent conservative” and I agree with that. While this could affect Newt, it’s going to seriously damage Romney.
Now, Jon Hunstman wasn’t at the debate, he is in New Hampshire, where he is picking up a little bit of momentum (he polled in double digits last week.) Now imagine a situation where Romney doesn’t get first, second or third in Iowa but places FOURTH behind Newt, Paul, and Perry or Bachmann. What is that going to do? It’s going to put Jon Hunstman in a very interesting place, especially as he will be elevated in a Lincoln-Douglass style debate with Newt Gingrich soon.
If that happens, expect Huntsman and Romney to split the moderate vote and propel Newt to win New Hampshire. And if that happens, it’s all over, Newt’s won. Huntsman has set himself up for 2016/20
Now this is all hypothetical. And of course, I’m a Newt supporter, so I’d like to see this happen. But don’t be surprised.