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.