The Campaign Spot

9-9-9: The Usual Number of Prime-Time Viewers of Bloomberg News

The Christie endorsement of Romney and the news about the Iranian plot prevented the usual all-debate content of the Morning Jolt, but there’s still plenty of reaction in today’s edition, and it seems like another night for Rick Perry that just didn’t go as hoped:

The First Debate Where the In-Attendance Audience Was Bigger than the Television Audience

If Republican candidates debate on the Bloomberg News channel, and no one can watch it because their cable system doesn’t carry it, does it mean that a tree falling in the forest makes more of a sound?

Exurban Jon: “Bonus note to the GOP: Next time, choose a station I can tune in without hacking into the Arecibo Radio Telescope.”

John Tabin: “This debate has all the edge-of-your-seat heart-pounding excitement that we’ve come to expect from Charlie Rose.”

To their credit, the debate did get a bit wonkier than its predecessors. After Newt Gingrich ripped into the Medicare’s method for determining which treatments to cover, Jonathan Martin asked, “Who had ‘not a single urologist’ in the first hour tonite?”

John Podhoretz noticed that early on, the questioning focused on some surprising figures: “So Mitt Romney is the frontrunner. It’s 21 minutes in the debate. He’s spoken for 90 seconds.”

About a half-hour in, another key candidate seemed strangely quiet, and Josh Trevino noticed: “Man, too bad Rick Perry couldn’t be here for this debate.” Ryan Streeter timed it: “We’re going on 28 minutes without hearing from Perry.”

Later, Romney did get some tough questions on TARP, and the format of his answer was an easy softball for Jonah’s mockery: “Was Romney’s answer long? Yes. Was all of it great? No. Would he like to answer it differently? Maybe. Does he like rhetorical qs? Yes!”

Michele Bachmann offered a substantive criticism of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, that it would open up the door to a national sales tax in addition to income taxes, and could then be later increased by Democratic presidents and Congresses, and one not-so-substantive criticism, arguing that “if you take the 9-9-9 and turn it upside down,  you’ll see the devil’s in the details.”

Mary Katharine Ham: “Bachmann also thinks the 9-9-9 plan could lead to an economic Beelzebubble.”

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this seemed to be the fourth straight weak debate performance for Rick Perry, and for this one, it was less the weakness of his answers than their infrequency and indistinctiveness. He seemed to fade into the background for much of the night.

The boss: “Perry has as much energy as Dorothy when she’s about to fall asleep in the poppy field.”

David Freddoso: “Perry played it safe, and lost.”

Phil Klein: “Perry makes Pawlenty look like a world champion debater.”

Larry Sabato: “Romney EASY winner, virtually untouched, PLUS he gets to keep Cain as main challenger. The script Mitt wanted to write for tonight.”

A surprising assessment from Democratic strategist Donna Brazile: “”I was po, before I was Poor,’ Herman Cain. He’s the only one with optimism and a positive view of the future. Perry is sleep walking.”

Melissa Clouthier sees big trouble in the way the GOP seemed to drift in this debate: “So the last couple years don’t matter? GOP back to loving TARP, bailouts, Greenspan, the Fed, and government in general?”