GOP Presidential Debate # 687 – Leaving Las Vegas

We’re live from Sodom & Gomorra Memorial Stadium in downtown Las Vegas.

Two curve-balls tonight already and we haven’t even had the opening kickoff.  First and foremost, it’s Anderson Cooper directing the action not Wolf Blitzer.  Wolf, nursing a bad hammy, will be sidelined till debate #701.  Even bigger curve, Jon Huntsman is not here.  He had the required polling points to make it but he’s boycotting this debate.  Not making this up folks.

When Nevada moved their primary vote into January to be the first state to go, they touched off a primary election day war.  In solidarity with New Hampshire and Iowa, the traditional first two primary election states, all the candidates vowed to boycott the Nevada caucus in January.  So Huntsman one-upped everyone and skipped the debate as well.  Good for you Jon.  (not really Jon)

Ok I’m just going to say it, call me what you want, I won’t delete any derogatory comment on this next statement.  What is with the National Anthem sung by Tony Award winning performer fill in the blank at debates all of a sudden.  I’m a patriot as much as the next person, did 22yrs in the military, but do we have to politicize everything?  Is nothing sacred anymore?

Alright, the coin has been tossed, the band is finally off the filed, lets get to the action.

Oh Herm, welcome to the bigs my friend.  999 was a great slogan but The Herminator got slaughtered over his economy plan when it was scrutinized, even on a basic level.  As I heard an older woman give the brush off to a younger studly dude one summer eve, “Being good looking gets you in the door, after 15 minutes you need to know something or you’ll be on the outside looking in again.”  She had no idea she was summing up The Herminator’s presidential run.

As it turns out, I miscalculated in describing the 999 economy plan.  If your state sales tax is, lets say 6%, you would still pay Herms 9% national sales tax on top of that.  So yeah, it sounded good but fails the smell test big time.  Only Newt Gingrich spoke well of Mr Cain.  Everyone else popped him in the beak right out of the gate.  In other words, their first statements were attacks on Cain.

Perry called Cain “Brother” about 6 times.  Bold talk from Perry, who had been fighting off attacks over the name of his hunting club.  Cain then tried to embarrass Mitt by saying Mitt didn’t understand and was comparing apples and oranges.  Mitt quickly retorted with “Well if I have a bushel basket of apples and oranges, I’m paying 6% plus another 9% on all of it under your plan.”  As Santorum pointed out, what happens if the president after Cain is a democrat, they might make it a 12-12-12 plan.  A 12% national sales tax on top of state sales tax? Say goodnight Herm.

Rick Santorum has rabies.  First he cold-cocks Cain on 999 then comes flying at Mitt with a kitchen cleaver called health care.  He was literally losing spit trying to keep Mitt from replying.  AC (Anderson Cooper) had to step in and give Mitt his time back so he could answer.  First time Mitt has really been attacked.  The attacker’s stature matters so not sure the amount of damage done to Mitt considering Rick is not surviving past January.  Had Perry or Cain brought that noise it might have hurt Mitt a little more.

Santorum was side show Bob all night.  Want proof, even when Rick answered questions the cameras were on Mitt and Perry.  Santorum was lying about his record so badly, the guy who crushed Santorum in the Pennsylvania Senate race in the last election took to twitter to call Rick out.

Perry spent all his energy in the first quarter.  He took it to Mitt hard and fast.  The problem, Perry and the rest were screaming and not letting Mitt answer.  That made them look small and childish.  Anyone who watches the sub plots of debates knows they would not let Mitt answer because Mitt’s answers make the rest of them look foolish.

Perry paid for the attacks on Mitt in the form of personal and mental stamina.  He, like Santorum, got so agitated with Mitt just brushing him off with that “I feel so bad for you look” Perry had to be subdued, by Mitt!  Mitt actually put his hand on Perry to get him to calm down.  First rule of debate club, don’t touch debate club members.  At one point Mitt even said “I know it’s been a tough last few debates for you Rick, so I know you’re going to get testy.”  Zing! Mormon Style!

Perry’s answers literally became more gibberish as the night wore on.  He went swimming on some answer about France and nuclear waste when he was supposed to be talking about how he would vote on forcing Nevada to take the nations nuclear waste.  Then he wandered through the daffodils on an answer about Mitt’s mormon faith.  Even on Mountain Time, Perry can’t stay with us for more than about an hour.

Ron Paul still living in Libertarian Utopia.  Doesn’t seem like he’s coming back any time soon.

Newt got back to bashing the debate format again.  He gave non-committal answers to everything.  Before long he’ll have to lay out some ideas instead of referring everyone to his website as he did tonight.  The best tweets I saw that encapsulate Newt were from ABC news’ Rick Klien who said “Newt’s world is so full of stupid people it hurts a little bit.” and Sam Youngman, White House correspondent for The Hill who tweeted, “Newt is an artist and his medium is condescension.”  10 kinds of awesome there and no reason to add to it.  (Sorry Rachel)

Michelle Bachman is hanging on but it’s painful.  It wasn’t train wreck painful, where you felt compelled to watch.  It was more “I’m hideous, look away” painful.  Last debate it was History, this time it’s Geography.  Bachmann says, “First Obama put us into a war in Libya, now he’s putting us in a war in Africa.”  Wow.  No words.  If you don’t know why this is ridiculously stupid, phone a friend or google maps Libya. (psst… Libya is in Africa)

I’m not a proponent of isms, but to me there feels like a twinge of sexism in the debates.  Bachmann rarely gets direct questioned on defense issues.  I know this because tonight was the first time she was ever asked a defense/spending question and we are 11 billion debates into the season.  I’m not saying we should get Gloria Alred on the phone but when the big boys get to hacking at each other she usually has to interject herself into the conversation while the others get questions put to them.  Of course since she doesn’t know Libya is in Africa already it might be good Bachmann gets to skip the defense questions.

Mitt was the big winner again, although some say the President has been the big winner at every debate.  This is mainly due to the lack of a clear favorite.  I don’t agree.  The President will face a battle tested debater no matter who survives this thunder dome.    He won’t trounce the republican nominee they way he mopped up McCain in 08 debates.

Mitt won because the gang beat down Herm for him and Perry went walk about half way into the debate.  I said Mitt was the front runner after last debate and the next day polls showed Cain in front.  No matter, Mitt is still the front runner.  Party polls are nice but it’s early.

2 indicators matter right now: Mitt’s national polling numbers against the President, he’s leading, and that means money for his campaign.  The other indicator is optics.  In other words who on that stage looked presidential.  Presidential politics is often more about perception than truth, popularity over substance.  When Perry and Santorum were literally yelling at Mitt at the same time he stood tall and moved on smoothly.

The big knock on Mitt has been he’s escaped the debates without facing a serious attack.  Well cross that off the list.  Perry and Santorum came at him for most of the night and sometimes simultaneously.  AC had to break it up a few times.  In the end they looked small and Mitt looked like he was in charge.  I think Mitt is winning the optics battle and will for the near future.  He is now neck and neck with Cain and that should change after tonight and he is second to Perry in the money battle.  They both hit the teens in millions of dollars raised at the end of the quarter.  Cain has not made 2 mill in any quarter yet.

I’m pro Mitt so take all of that for what it’s worth.

Next up is an NBC affair in Rochester Michigan on November 9th.  Can you guess where Mitt is from?

This entry was posted in Diaries.