Last night, the Republican presidential candidates debated in Tampa, Florida, under the umbrella of a “Tea Party Debate.” This is different from the actual Republican debate last week insofar as CNN sponsored it, and CNN loves the idea that the “Tea Party” is a tangible force, instead of, y’know, a media-invented umbrella term for vague right-leaning political discontent. I don’t own a TV, which sucks for multiple reasons, but it’s worth it because I usually just watch stuff on the internet anyway. Only trouble was, I couldn’t find the debate online, whether because of CNN’s complete control over their content or because of my own technological ineptness. Either way, I was stuck watching the blogs, who were in turn watching the debate. Here is what I learned:
Ron Paul called out the United States and people booed hard. Basically, he said something along the lines of “we deserved 9/11 because of our stupid interventionism, stupid.” And people didn’t like that for some reason. Understand that Ron Paul is not an anti-American liberal apologist, he just really really really likes the idea of borders, and staying inside them. But yeah he’s totally not getting elected now, in case anyone had any doubts at all.
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are obvious in how similar they are, but also highlight their differences. Basically, Romney and Perry are both older-middle-aged conservative white men with similar plans on how to
win the election fix the economy. But then Perry does something like attack Social Security as being a Ponzi scheme, and Romney goes up to bat for government programs, and the audience didn’t like that. Perry’s a cowboy, Romney is measured in his rhetoric. Perry doesn’t prepare, Romney is a master-debater. Guess who conservative voters like more? (Rick Perry. They liked Rick Perry more. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe they liked Mitt Romney more. The blogs were divided on this issue. Whoever is our next president, that’s who voters liked more.)
Every other candidate saw Rick Perry’s performance and smelled blood. Everyone hated on Rick Perry last night—Romney on Social Security, Ron Paul on taxes, and then there was the whole mandatory HPV thing that Perry instituted, which Michele Bachmann thinks infringes upon her God-given right as a woman to contract cervical cancer. Perry didn’t expect to be called out on everything, so he played the crowd instead of the debate.
Jon Huntsman needs to accept the inevitable, concede, and join a politically-moderate think tank. Conservatives don’t know who this guy is, and if they do, they don’t like him. He’s blandly charismatic and way too moderate.
What I didn’t hear: “Oh boy this debate is pointless!” Even though it really really really has no bearing on the nomination.