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.