Mike Kueber's Blog

September 23, 2011

The FOX/Google debate in Florida

Filed under: Media,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:44 am
Tags: , ,

Earlier tonight, nine Republican presidential candidates had a two-hour debate on FOX News.  Based on the feedback from a Frank Luntz focus group, the debate was the beginning of the end of Rick Perry’s candidacy.

The focus group noted that Perry responses were overly defensive and rambling, especially with his defense of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.  It was probably not a good idea to call people who disagree with him as heartless, especially since most of the people in the focus group disagreed with him.  Mitt Romney also put him on the defensive by quoting from Perry’s book Fed Up, in which Perry said that Social Security has been a failure, is unconstitutional, and should be returned to the states.  And finally, Michele Bachmann put him on the
defensive for issuing an executive order that mandated an anti-cancer vaccination of all Texas school girls.  The crowd actually booed Perry’s immigration and vaccination answers, so the focus-group response was not surprising.

Everyone wanted to pile on Perry.  Even Rick Santorum, who made a key point about Perry’s in-state tuition law – i.e., it provided to illegal immigrants a subsidy that was being denied to American citizens from other states.  Santorum asked Perry to justify this subsidy, and when Perry responded without answering, Santorum complained to moderator Chris Wallace that Perry had not answered the question.  Wallace gave a great ad lib – “You asked the question and he gave an answer.  We sometimes get frustrated with the answer, too.”

Aside from Perry, none of the other candidates were successfully put on the defensive regarding any of their positions.  As columnist Charles Krauthammer noted following the debate, Perry tried to attack Romney on three positions, but stumbled around in making his arguments.
Krauthammer also suggested that Perry’s vaccination defense started strong by describing his motivation as a personal meeting with a cancer victim, but then he stumbled again in finishing his answer.  Even worse, Michele Bachmann claimed after the debate that there were news reports that Perry actually met the cancer victim after he had issued his executive order.  Based on Bachmann’s faulty post-debate comments last week, you wonder if either Bachmann or Perry are ready for primetime.

Assorted tidbits from the debate:

  • Former NM governor was included in this debate, and he made the funniest comment – my neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than Obama has.
  • Herman Kane gave the most direct answers and received the most audience approval.  They liked his 9-9-9 tax plan (business tax, personal tax, sales tax) and were moved by his description of his successful battle with cancer, especially when he persuasively claimed that he probably would have died under ObamaCare.
  • Romney was asked to define what income level he would characterize as rich, and he refused to answer, but he did say that people making $200k were in the middle class.  During a break in the questioning, moderator Brett Bauer said that the majority of internet responses put the level at either $500k or $1 million, not Obama’s $200k.
  • Gingrich said it was accurate to call Obama a socialist, but Romney refused to.  He said Obama was a big-spending liberal.
  • Romney quipped that he has been in private business all of his life except for just four years as governor.  Then he looked at Perry and said, “I didn’t inhale.”  Funny.
  • Romney twice used a cute response to counter charges from Perry.  “Nice try,” he said, and then went on to explain his actual position.  The response reminds me of Reagan’s winning response to Mondale’s misleading charges, “There you go again.”
  • Huntsman and Santorum argued over whether the troops should come home from Iraq, with Huntsman essentially taking Obama’s position that America has become a bad-guy in world opinion, and Santorum countering that the American economy may be sick, but our values are still great.  Santorum clearly got the better of this one with primary voters.
  • Bachmann referred to Thomas Jefferson for justifying religion in the public square.  That is ironic because many religious conservatives detest Jefferson for originating the phrase, “separation of church and state.”

The last question of the night was excellent – if you had to pick your vice-president from the people on the stage, who would it be?  Not surprisingly, some candidates refused to play along, but a few did:

  • Gary Johnson said he would pick fellow liberation Ron Paul.
  • Rick Santorum said he would pick Newt Gingrich.
  • Rick Perry half-joked that he would pick a combination of Newt Gingrich and Herman Kane.
  • Herman Kane said he would pick Mitt Romney if Romney would adopt the 9-9-9; otherwise he would go with Newt.

You might be wondering if the betting odds have changed on the candidates since the debate ended almost two hours ago.  So was I.   According to Intrade.com, Romney remains the favorite at 40%, but Perry has dropped to 30%.  Two non-candidates are next, with Palin at 9% and Christie at 5%.  Huntsman is at 4% and Bachmann at 2%.  With Bachmann fading, the betting crowd seems to think that Palin or Christie might be drawn in.

Stay tuned.