Perry v. Romney Part III: The Aftermath

Remember way back in late August, when Rick Perry had more than a ten point lead in the polls over Mitt Romney? And everybody (me) was just like: yeah, yeah, polls don’t matter at this point, but let’s base our entire analysis on these polls anyway.

Well, we’ve seen Romney and Perry square off against each other in three debates, the first at a shrine to Reagan, one in Tampa, Fla., and one in Orlando just a few days ago. And the charm has decidedly started to wear on the big-talking Texan. Where once he had a 10 point lead only 10 days ago, he’s been dropping steadily and Romney is on the upswing, leaving Perry up less than eight points.

I’m thinking this Venn diagram still holds except (this is big) immigration is a huge weakness for Perry with GOP primary crowd. None of them like his policy in Texas of giving young illegal immigrants in-state tuition and Romney (along with all his other opponents) are going to hammer him on giving this “incentive” for people to come into the U.S. illegally. Plus, the “have a heart” comment from Perry struck exactly the wrong note – something that became clear during the focus-group discussion on Fox News. Nobody likes being told they’re heartless – even if it might be partially true.

Trying to compensate for his lackluster debate performance, Perry gave a speech on Friday saying the GOP shouldn’t just pick the “smoothest debater.”

The model for socialized medicine has already been tried and it failed, not just in Western Europe but in Massachusetts … what’s happening in Massachusetts gives us a window into this country’s future. If RomneyCare cost Massachusetts 18,000 jobs, just think what it will do to the rest  of this country.

The problem here? Romney, just like all the other candidates, has promised to dismantle Obamacare. He also once again defended Romneycare as a plan for Massachusetts, not something to be transplanted wholesale to the entire nation – checking the 10th amendment box.

So looking forward: we’ll see immigration became a top issue for Romney to push and Perry to defend while the Texan tries to deflect the topic to economic growth which he has a stronger record on.

Also, you know how Romney wants to get rid of the capital gains tax on middle-income Americans? Well… it’s already at zero for those whose incomes are taxed at 10 and 15 percent (a married couple making less than about $66,000). There are lots of tricky things with taxes… especially the capital gains and corporate one and how they interact.

A few things missing from the debate:

1) No question about capital punishment and the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia despite serious problems with the case against him. The hosts had a perfect moment when Perry said “I will always err on the side of life.” It was Fox News, though.

2) The usual rote political “Thank you for your service” to the gay American soldier asking a question about the end of DADT. Also, only Santorum answered it. And what a terrible, awful answer it was. “Special privilege”? For being able to be honest about their sexuality like all the men and women with spouses and kids who get benefits? Alright, he’s sort of amended the statement – to thank the soldier – but not backed down on the essence of it. He would still reinstate DADT.

3) Any substantive foreign policy questions and concrete, clear answers. There was Santorum’s stumbling ramble about keeping forces in Iraq, with a reference on the “if Pakistan lost a nuke” to President Musharraf – who’s been out of power for years and currently lives in London. Perry failed to answer they hypothetical 3 a.m. question. Probably the clearest articulated overarching strategy: Huntsman with his return to isolationism and Santorum (after the initial stumbles) with his pro-democracy, continued military involvement abroad stance.

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