09.13.11 4:31 AM ET
Two Texans Take on Debate
2 Candidates—2 Republican Parties
by Paul Begala
Perry and Romney represent very different GOPs. Who won depends on which party is running the show, says Paul Begala.
What a contrast. Mitt Romney was cool; Rick Perry was hot. Mitt was professional; Rick was angry. Romney reeled off statistics; Perry just made stuff up, but looked certain sayin’ it. Mitt used the measured, modulated tone of an investment banker, Rick had the PO’d swagger of a Tea Party activist.
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Who won? That may be the wrong question. The one I’m pondering is: Which party? If this is the Republican Party of the country club and the corporate suites, Mitt Romney won going away. But what if there’s been a hostile takeover? What if the pitchfork crowd has charged the manicured greens and taken over the clubhouse?
If in fact that revolution has occurred, Rick Perry won tonight’s debate. He is a heat-seeking missile for the heart of the right-wing base. He not only wants to end Social Security, he wishes it had never been created in the first place, opening up an argument with FDR that Ronald Reagan would have never tolerated.
Perry Takes Heavy Fire
by Mark McKinnon
The Texas governor was attacked aggressively by both Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann and did a good job of reassuring voters on Social Security in a good, vigorous debate, says Mark McKinnon.
It was good and vigorous debate. Tough, smart, and fair questions from the moderator, Wolf Blitzer. Tough, smart, and fair questions from members of the Tea Party audience. And generally an evening of clear and direct responses from the candidates.
As expected, Gov. Rick Perry was attacked early and aggressively on Social Security. And Perry went a long way toward reassuring viewers and voters that he has no intention of changing the program in any way for current or even near retirees. Even though former governor Mitt Romney likened Social Security to criminal fraud in his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, he showed no inhibition in attacking Perry on the issue. I don’t think Perry put the issue to bed, but he sent it upstairs to get into PJs.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, clearly responding to a dip in the polls as a result of Perry’s entrance into the race, came with guns loaded and furiously launched broadsides at him at every opportunity. She went after Perry on Texas immigration laws and joined Rep. Ron Paul in criticizing him for a program to provide HPV vaccines for middle-school-aged girls. And she struck some strong chords with the Tea Party crowd.
Call it “GOP Idol”—Mitt Romney and Rick Perry argued Social Security while Newt Gingrich took on President Obama. Watch the best moments from tonight’s CNN Tea Party debate.
The Tea Party Game Show?
Call it GOP Idol. The introductions at the CNN Tea Party debate seemed more fitting for a dramatic reality TV show than a serious political event. Wolf Blitzer shouted out each candidate’s name and job description as they walked out onstage individually, to thunderous applause.
Social Security: Ponzi Scheme or Slam Dunk?
Rick “Ponzi Scheme” Perry promised with a “slam dunk guarantee” that Social Security will be there for seniors who are currently expecting it. However, he stressed that the program still needs to be reformed. “Obviously, we are not going to take that program away,” he said. Perry also pointed out that Mitt Romney wrote in his book that if people made such a program in the private sector, it would be called criminal. Ron Paul wants to allow all young people to opt out of Social Security to “go on their own.” Asked if he agreed that Social Security should be called a Ponzi scheme, Herman Cain said, “I don’t care what you call it, it’s broken.” Jon Huntsman said nothing should be off the table for reforming Social Security, but also pointed out that Romney called it a “fraud” in his book. Rick Santorum said he was talking about reforming Social Security way back in 1994 and that he has been “leading the charge.”