Pundits seem hell bent on singling out a dismal performance by Governor Rick Perry on Thursday night’s FOX/Google debate, which was the most watched debate in history—proving voters are paying attention in record numbers as the economics tighten.
Nine Republican candidates took the stage, but only one took the hearts of Florida’s Straw Poll participants on Saturday: Herman Cain. Pulling a whopping 37% in a field of nine was no small accomplishment. But wait a minute. Mitt Romney “won” that debate handily, didn’t he? At least that’s what pundits are declaring. He gave the right answers…spoke with confidence…demeaned Perry cunningly…railed at President Obama effectively…and of course, looked good. Campaigning non-stop for four years, he has no other job. And before this he campaigned at least four more for the last presidency. He has spent millions of his own dollars and by now we all know at least in part, his oft recited resume. So why didn’t he win the straw poll?
Governor Perry has a full time job. Most recently he was off the campaign trail to handle the enormous wildfires threatening his state. And Governor Romney was right in the last debate: Massachusetts is NOT Texas. Texas is about 38 times the size of Massachusetts with a budget the size of Canada. Governor Perry is good on the economy and most social issues, but his position on illegal immigration is anathema to conservatives. Still…he stood on the stage and like a true Texan, stuck to his guns. That drew boos from the audience, but on some level, was a refreshing contrast from the former Governor of Massachusetts.
As Governor Romney chided Perry over giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, no one pointed out that before he was a candidate in 2008, Romney supported a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants.
No one reminded the audience how he hammered McCain in particular for holding the same position he once had held or how he demagogued Giuliani and Huckabee for being soft on illegal immigration.
“This could be extreme political repositioning, even for Romney,” stated the Boston Globe.