GOP Debate #9: Hello, Hello Hanover – Is this thing on?

In case you missed it, and unless you get the Bloomberg channel or watched it on the inter-webs you did miss it,  there was a republican presidential debate last night from the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire.  It was sort of the same old stuff but then it was different as well.  Let me count the ways:

1.  The Bloomberg Channel moderated the debate.  Now while my good friend Tony has won me over to the liberal media bias argument, I still contend that the cable news channels make the Big 3 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) look like hard line conservatives. The folks at The Bloomberg Channel went a long way in proving me right.

Talk about liberal agendas, wow!  Every question was dripping with disdain and arrogance for any person who even thought a conservative idea might have merit.  It was as if the moderators were daring the candidates to try to answer their powerfully intellectual questions.  Let me tell you, Frank, yes my 2yr old Frank, could have answered most of those questions.  Frank’s a bright boy, but poo-poo and ca-ca would have been sufficient responses to a majority of the offerings from the moderators.

The setting this time was a round table discussion.  Think Cone of Silence round table from the old Get Smart series, not King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table.  All looked very comfortable, except Rick Perry.  More on that below.

2. The Herminator got a little taste of what it’s like near the top of the heap.  It’s even more rough and tumble if you’re near the top and have specific policies and plans out there.  Can you say 999 Plan.  Cain was getting jumped on all night.  He did well I thought.  Never answered a question without saying 999 Plan first.

So here’s the gist of 999.  Cain will introduce a 9% corporate tax, a 9% pay roll tax and a 9% national sales tax.

Of course the 9% corporate tax rate is a joke and is nothing more than a huge tax cut for corporations.  Surprise.

The sales tax portion is what will sink him in my opinion.  So if your state sales tax is 11% it will drop to 9%.  If your state sales tax is 0%, hello Delaware and New Hampshire, it will rise to 9%.  As Rick Santorum pointed out, yes he’s still in the race, there is no practical way to keep the national sales tax at 9% once instituted.  It’s likely to be raised.

Cain’s folks claim the 9% payroll tax, which is 6% lower than the payroll tax everybody currently pays, will more than off-set the sales tax you might have to pay.  Also the sales tax is on new items only, not used.  So used cars will not have a sales tax attached to them.  No word from car dealers as to who they will endorse for president, but I have a guess who it won’t be.

3.  Big night for Mitt.  He picked up a lot of donors who were backing Gov. Chris Christie of NJ.  Once Christie made it clear he was not running, all his donors waiting to heap gobs of money on him stood with Mitt.  Well last night Gov. Christie was in the audience and after the debate publicly endorsed Mitt for President.  That is huge, no pun intended Governor Christie.

It was also a big night in the actual debate.  The gang finally started to attack Mitt.  Bad move fellas, bad move.  Every question or attack directed at Mitt was swatted away with confidence and ease.  It was like Mitt was taking pity on them.  It was like Mitt was absorbing the energy of each candidate as their puny questions and attacks were tossed aside.   It was like Mitt was a clip from Highlander, seen here: There Can Be Only One

Mitt was clearly prepping for the big fight with the President.  He’s already making the pivot to a national campaign.  He rarely bad mouth’s his fellow republicans and really only tangles with Perry when Perry attacks him.  Mitt turned every question into his national stump speech.  That’s called winning, ladies and gentleman.  It’s way early but the former Governor of Massachusetts, is now the clear front runner.

4.  Perry had his worst debate yet.  He’s fading fast.  One tell tale sign, the moderator gave him a softball question about health care that Perry could have clobbered Mitt with and Perry didn’t take it.  He gave a bizarrely basic “we have to get the country moving again” type answer that was muddled to say the least.  He raised a ton of money this quarter, somewhere in the 8 million range, but that won’t continue or help if he can’t hold his own in debates and general confrontation.  Remember this is just the start of the process.  Which brings us to the same old Perry issue.

Once again Perry looked sleepy, literally.  He rarely answered or engaged unless the moderator went directly to him.  He looked at the same time bored out of his mind and afraid to make eye contact for fear of getting called on to answer.  He also misplaced the American Revolution, saying it occurred in the 16th century.  Yikes!  History will love you boys and girls, but you have to love history first.  A pound of fried Ham Hocks to the first loyal listener who replies with the correct century of the American Revolution.

5. To paraphrase a line I saw on Twitter, Hunstman, Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Bachman were trying to win the best cocktail party guest award and offered nothing of substance.

Gingrich wins for line of the night when he said he would arrest and jail the current head of the federal reserve and secretary of finance.

Bachmann wins the award for the most idiotic, wildly incorrect use of theology, line of the night.  When she was asked about Cain’s 999 Economic Plan she replied, “The devil is in the details, 999 upside down is 666.”   Really Michelle?  Since Frank is in the other room I’ll speak for him here and say “POO POO in da potty Michelle, POO POO in da potty!”

That’s Frank’s way of saying something stinks to high heaven.

6. My boy Rick Santorum was there.  Surprising because he is below the polling percentage points necessary to appear in debates.  However there was some technicality that allowed him in.  Still have not figured that out yet.  It was worth it though because the Rick-mister did not disappoint.

His first words were, “I’ve only got to answer one question tonight and everybody else is getting to answer several.”  It never really feels like a debate these days unless Santorum cries about the lack of attention.  Hey Rick, try getting more than your immediate family to answer polling questions about you and you might get some debate action.

His second answer you ask, well ole` Rick said he wants war with China.  He was so confused with the conversation Mitt was having with the camera, i.e. the rest of the country, about trade agreements and penalizing China for their shady monetary practices when Rick just blurted out “I want war with China.”  Cue pregnant pause, followed by awkward silence, capped off with a “damn-it Rick” look from the moderator.  And cut to commercial.

Santorum offered explanation but it was too late, the moment was sealed.

Next up Sin City.  The GOP debates moves to Las Vegas, hosted by CNN’s Wolf ‘I’m not a reindeer‘ Blitzen.

Winners and Losers – GOP Edition


The Herminator:  After the beat down he administered in Florida and the contested poll in Michigan, Herman Cain gained even more momentum early this week.  This time Cain struck gold with the Republican Federation of Women.  He won their straw poll with almost 50% of the vote. Perry and Mitt finished 2nd and 3rd respectively but way behind The Herminator.  Actually those two were in a statistical dead heat at 14% +/- 2%.

Chris Christie:  When was the last time someone got so much attention for saying he was not going to do something so many want him to do.  He’s been saying it for almost a year now.  Web sites are devoted to playing montages of all the times he has said he’s not running.  He had to cap off this denial with a 2hr press conference the past Tuesday.  He’s also the first politician I have ever heard answer the Vice President question honestly.  When asked he replied his personality and style would most likely keep him from being selected.  He just made Herman Cain’s VP short list.

Mitt Romney: See above paragraph about Chris Christie.  Also with all of Perry’s troubles, which will be detailed in the losers section, Mitt’s stock has risen.  As Chuck Todd of NBC put it, The establishment of the Republican Party will now fall in like with Mitt.  They won’t love him until he beats Obama.


Rick Perry:  His stock is plummeting as quickly as it soared.  He can’t convince people that letting children of illegal immigrants go to State Universities in Texas at the in-resident rate and government mandated vaccinations for young girls are good ideas.  Those issues are no longer his biggest problem.

A hunting camp his family has been leasing for a long time goes by the name Niggerhead.  Now Perry’s family didn’t name it that.  The word was painted on a big rock at the entrance of the camp.  Perry’s father painted over the word but it’s still visible.   The big stink among many stinks here is the fact that Perry knew all this before he ran for Governor of Texas and never thought it an issue.  That, to me, shows a lack of political insight.  Of course this was going to be an issue, manufactured or otherwise.  This is politics, truth and logic come in 9th and 10th on a top 5 list.

Make no mistake, this issue is killing him in the polls.  He has dropped way off in finances as well.  Christie’s financial backers have signed on to Mitt’s team not Perry’s as a lot of people thought, so this thing does have long term legs.  I for one don’t see the issue.  Perry’s family didn’t name the camp Niggerhead.  They don’t own the camp they just lease it  and then tried to remove the name.   I mean short of dynamiting the rock what was his father supposed to do.  This is a silly as the birth certificate issue.  Rick Perry has done more for minorities in the state of Texas than the its last two Governors.  The beating he is taking over his immigration policy alone should tell you something.  I don’t know the guy but a dude who lets illegal aliens go to his state universities doesn’t seem like a racist to me.  Then again I’m white and not in-charge of what GOP voters think.  Remember these are the folks who booed a soldier serving in Iraq during a nationally televised debate.  Dave Weigel’s article on the hunting camp issue.

Michelle Bachman: Michelle, Michelle, where have you gone?  She is a non-factor.  Pundits predicted she would be gone by Christmas of this year, I said Thanksgiving of this year, let the games begin.   Her funds have all but dried up.  What’s more telling is the straw poll Herman Cain won.  Bachman, the only woman in the field and the supposed only true conservative darling of the tea party, got shellacked in the Repub. Federation of Women straw poll.  She got 5.  No, not 5 percent of the vote, she got 5 total votes which is 1.4% of all votes cast.  Picture the Charlie Brown Halloween episode.  Cain got 3 extra large Kit Kat bars, Bachman – got a rock.  Unfortunately for her it wasn’t even a very big rock.  Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown        NFoW Straw Poll Results

Making matters worse for Bachman: Florida, Nevada, and South Carolina are moving their primary election days to January.  Iowa will now be the 4th primary instead of the first.  If she had any chance to stay relevant, even for a little while, Iowa would have been it.  It’s her home state, she probably would have finished 2nd or at least 3rd and that would have been enough to keep the money coming until the New Hampshire primary.  The NH primary now drops to fifth in the batting order anyway so say goodbye Congresswomen Bachman, we hardly knew ye.

Sarah Palin:  My first mention of the half Governor of Alaska.  It looks like it will be the last.  She finally said she would not run for President.  With the Florida primary moving to January the filing deadline to get on the ballot in Florida was Oct 31st so she had to make a decision.  She is not being lauded as Gov Christie is.  Part of that is the beating she takes daily from the media; the same media she craves so much by the way.  But a lot of it, I think, has to do with how she did it and how she said it.

On Greta Wire, Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox, Palin said the title of President is just that, a title and would shackle her and she didn’t want to be weighed down and kept from doing what she wanted to do by having to be President.  So focusing on why being President would be such a negative for her versus Christie talking about the positives of remaining Governor of NJ to finish what he started is, what I believe to be, a stark contrast in character.  The best summation I saw about the Announcement, was the comment that “a person more than half the country can’t stand announced she’s not running for a job she had no chance of getting.”

Social networking isn’t Sarah’s flair either.  Some 58 minutes after Twitter started trending about Palin’s announcement, it was announced that Steve Jobs died.  The twitter-verse exploded with tweets about Steve Jobs rightfully so.  I’m typing this on my 24 inch screen all-in-one Mac while my 2yr old son Frank is dancing and playing guitar (using his golf club) to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer blasting from his mothers iPod.  The only one in the political circles on twitter not tweeting about Jobs, you guessed it, Sarah Palin.  Her camp kept tweeting videos of Palin speeches and appearances without even a simple explanation as to the intent.  That is just another in a long line of examples that show Palin and her camp really aren’t in touch with the general populace.  Her unfavorable stats in polls showed that and most likely led to her decision not to run.

Palin unfavorable stats

Oh and Howard Fineman, the director of political reporting for The Huffinton Post, kept tweeting blank pictures of his pocket, but he was sitting on his phone so he gets a pass.

GOP Campaign Update

A few interesting things have occurred since the last GOP debate in Orlando.

The Herminator  – Rise of the Pizza Guy.  So Florida held a straw poll over the weekend.  Straw polls are nothing more than popularity contests normally used to keep the voters interested in what becomes longer and longer political seasons.  Candidates usually come to events preceding the actual polling to give speeches, shake hands, meet and greet the unwashed, etc…

In the case of Florida’s straw poll, most of the candidates didn’t even come to Sunshine State for it.  Only Gov. Perry of Texas and Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfathers Pizza, showed and made speeches.  Perry quickly departed after his speech to attend Michigan’s straw poll, while Cain stayed for quite a while to press the flesh.

Cain’s moved payed off.  He crushed 2nd place finisher Perry and 3rd place finisher Romney.  Cain took 37% of the vote.  Perry got 15% and Romney 14% of the vote.  The rest of the crew finished so far out from the top 3 they’re not even worth the mention.  Again Mitt didn’t even go to the Florida poll, he spent a lot of his time in Michigan over the weekend where his father George was the governor from 1962-1969.  So there a lot of questions for the Perry campaign to figure out.

The bigger question is why the press is treating the Herminator’s victory like proof the GOP has nothing to offer and is in disarray.  Liberals have classified Herm’s big win as a vote for “none of the above”.  But that’s what the other side does, it should be expected that Democrats turn this into derogatory fodder.  However, had Perry won by 75% you can bet liberals and progressives would have downplayed the significance.  The bigger question is why has no one from the GOP has come out to defend Herman Cain. The silence of the GOP only lends credence to the attacks from the Democrats.

Perry has bigger issues than losing to the pizza guy.  He dumped the Florida event to get to Michigan only to have his a** handed to him by Romney.  Of course this is technically Mitt’s home state and he did spend serious time there prior to the poll, but the margin of victory was still a little startling.  Mitt took 50% of the vote to Perry’s 16%.  Even the Herminator finished 3rd with 8.5% in a state he did not visit.

Perry’s camp clearly has work to do.  The polls generally mean nothing and are better at predicating the loser of the actual election than the winner, but couple those 2 beat-downs with some bad debate’s and Perry could take a shot in the man-purse.  Money won’t find you if you don’t look like you know what you’re doing.  And make no mistake, money makes this whole process go round.

I was actually right for once:  My old buddy Rick Santorum, who is polling at 3% nationally, meaning only 3% of the people asked nationwide say they would actually vote for him, got a lot of questions at the last debate.  He got more questions directed to him than the guys running at the top of the polling.  I had opined that it was because Brett Baier of Fox News figured Rick would be willing to mix it up and add some sizzle to the snore-fest these debates have become for the general public.

Turns out I was right but it was not something Brett figured on the fly.  The Fox team actually anticipated it and crafted the strategy for the debate around Santorum in their pre-production meetings. So what looked like off the cuff questions thrown at Santorum by Chris Wallace and Brett Baier were actually scripted to heat up the debate between Santorum and Perry specifically.  Howard Kurtz, who covers politics for The Daily Beast, got some inside info on the production meetings and the plan to get Santorum to unwittingly be Fox’s firebrand, and confirms my suspicion.  You can read the Kurtz’s info in an article by Slate reporter Dave Weigel, here

Did I mention I was right about that.