Andrea Tantaros: “After tonight it looks like a 2 person race. My headline — Perry and Romney: the Obama and Clinton of 2012.”
So which one ends up as Secretary of State?
S. E. Cupp wonders about a bigger unity ticket: “Is a Perry/Romney ticket feasible? More importantly, is it too good-looking?”
Pete Dominick scoffs, “Bruce Wayne & Clark Kent 2012.” (You knew Perry would be Batman in that scenario, right? Why do I see the final Perry-Romney debate going down like the climax of The Dark Knight Returns?)
All eyes were on the new guy, who just happens to be leading the field. I see a lot to like in Rick Perry, but I have those nagging doubts. For starters, I walk into this decision knowing I have to balance how much I like him against the criteria of whether enough voters in enough states to amount to 270 electoral votes like him. There’s no point in getting the GOP to nominate my ideal candidate — say, the mind of Friedrich Hayek with the charisma of Salma Hayek — if the country won’t elect him or her.
On Perry, I like the tough-talking Texan persona, and I know that he’s a different man, with a distinctly different record, than George W. Bush. I just don’t know if those low-information wishy-washy independents will grasp that, or whether they’ll hear the voice and the title “Texas governor” and just write him off. They shouldn’t, but to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “You don’t go into a presidential decision with the voters you would like to have; you go into the election with the voters you have.” Perry’s decision — quickly rescinded — to mandate the vaccination of Texas schoolgirls for HPV, a decision which came up Wednesday night, appears to be an epic mental pratfall. We all have them, but it’s worrisome to have one in a decision that strikes such an emotional chord and that seems so basic in its relation to civil liberties. Another comment by Perry — that he’ll do “whatever it takes to preserve human life” — feels a little too casual in its dismissal of balancing the costs and benefits. A 45 mile-per-hour speed limit would help preserve human life. So would confiscating every steak knife in the country.
Ed Morrissey: “Perry didn’t do anything to dent his momentum. This will start settling into a binary race, and may not be much room for new entries.”
Our old friend David Freddoso declares that the biggest event of debate was that “the GOP frontrunner says Social Security is a ponzi scheme. Did he go too far, or is this twilight of the idols?”
Mary Katharine Ham sees it as a high-stakes gambling strategy from Perry: “After tonight, we’ll know whether we can admit SS is a broken promise or whether the politically palatable lie is all we can handle.”
Certainly, the opposition thinks Rick Perry committed inadvertent self-destruction by doubling down on his comparison of Social Security to a Ponzi scheme. Howard Fineman reports, “”Perry just lost the election,” said Romney’s top advisor. “He said he’d abolish Social Security! You can’t win federal office saying that.”
Melissa Clothier predicts, “The media will say Perry lost the debate. Perry’s poll numbers go up.”
Jon Henke notices, “Good sign for @GovernorPerry: @ThinkProgress thinks he lost.”
I hate to disappoint those who wanted to see a lot of reaction to Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, but . . . there just wasn’t much discussion of those guys last night.