(Hutchison) came out swinging with a smile, repeatedly challenging (Perry's) leadership. He didn't hold back on criticizing her, hard, and defending his record.
As often as they could, the two took the fight directly to each other on issues important to all Texans, including the budget and taxes.
Activist Debra Medina didn't fade into the background, as she well might have, sharing a stage with two powerhouses. She stood her ground and presented her limited-government point of view staunchly, winning kudos from a Hutchison staffer afterward for her command of the facts.
More detail on budget fixes from Perry and Hutchision would have been good. Cut where? How much can you really scrub from the budget without hurting vulnerable Texans.
-- Peggy Fikac of Texas Politics
I agree with Senator Hutchison that Texas future is at risk because we are failing to educate so many Texans. Dropout rates are among the highest in the nation and college tuition has been skyrocketing. ... And yet, in a one hour debate, Governor Perry never accepted accountability for the failures of public education or described how we could improve it and bring down skyrocketing college tuition rates. Our state deserves better than that.
Much of the debate consisted of complaints about the federal government, rather than solutions for Texas.
-- Bill White
(Last night's debate was) a childish squabbling match to see who can be the most far right reactionary candidate. ... Things in Texas are heading in the wrong direction. The cost of health care and health insurance are out of control, the quality of basic public education is falling, and our air, land and water are under constant threat from polluters. We simply can't settle for more business as usual.
It is more important than ever for the other Democratic candidates for Governor to have the opportunity for meaningful dialogue. I hope Bill White will rethink his decision to not debate the other candidates in a public forum.
-- Farouk Shami
Senator Hutchison walks away with a pretty clear win tonight, with a powerful assist by Debra Medina, who now becomes the credible third option in this race in the eyes of everyone watching tonight. And Democrats, of course, walk away from the debate happy -- the incumbent got pounded, the dark horse got a huge boost in credibility, and enough slime got thrown around to make us look forward to the rest of the Republican primary race.
-- George Nasser at The Texas Blue
Governor Perry looked tired and irritated. Senator Hutchison remained calm and collected, while smiling, as she responded to Perry's attacks. Hutchison used a debate style move of posing a question to Medina that was a direct swipe at Perry. Medina made mention several times that the other two would respond as typical politicians to questions. ...
While Hutchison was grilled on her abortion stance, Medina was not asked about her decision to home school her children and only teach creationism to them while ignoring evolution. She believes the age of earth is not settled and that it must only be about 4,000 years old, as biblical teachings direct her. She was asked about her practice of carrying a gun without a conceal carry license, which is legal in Texas. You may be interested in knowing she does not take it into the grocery store.
-- moderate conservative blogger Pondering Penguin
And some non-partisan reporting from Aman Batheja at Poli-Tex. More updates to this post later today.
Update: Burka, excerpted in easy-to-digest small bites.
Maybe the question is: Was there a winner? Well, the format was a winner. ...
... But televised debates are as much about images as about words, and I thought (Perry) looked terrible, even creepy at times. He really looked uncomfortable. Sometimes he wore a frozen grin, sometimes it was a smirk; whatever it was, it transmitted, “I don’t want to be here.” He was constantly on the defensive. When he said how well Texas is doing (in job creation) Medina shot back, You’re using 07 figures. Perry is not very good when he is on the defensive. He is very good when he is on the attack....
Hutchison had one terrible moment. It came when David Montgomery asked about her support for Roe v. Wade. She sidestepped the issue. Other panelists tried to get her to give a straight answer. She handled it so badly that the audience laughed. That is never good. ... If it had not been for the abortion question, I would have said that Hutchison won the debate, but that was a disaster for Hutchison. ...
I was hoping for more from Debra Medina, but I don’t think she made a case for herself as a major candidate for governor. Medina marginalized herself by concentrating on fringe issues, such as open carry (guns), legalization of drugs, and other libertarian positions. ... It seemed evident that she and Perry are fighting over the same constituency on the right.
The campaign will now move to the airwaves. Perry so far has had a huge advantage. His TV is so much better than Hutchison’s, his messages so much clearer. Thirty-three days to go before the start of early voting.
Wayne Slater at the DMN, also noticing the pointlessness of KBH's nuanced position on abortion among GOP primary
Kay Bailey Hutchison had to convince Republican primary voters of two things in Thursday's debate: why they should boot Rick Perry out of the governor's office and why they should put her in.
The veteran senator offered plenty of ammunition for the first: toll roads, new taxes, school dropouts under Perry's tenure and the dark warning of creeping cronyism in Austin.
But for the voters she needs – the conservative, small-government, anti-abortion party activists who will dominate turnout in March – the reason to pick her seemed a less convincing case.
No issue animates social conservatives like abortion. And for anti-abortion forces in the GOP, Hutchison's views on that always have been a problem.
When a panelist asked Hutchison about her vote against overturning the Roe vs. Wade court decision legalizing abortion, Hutchison rolled out her conservative credentials. ...
The answer – nuanced and reasoned – probably isn't what many in the GOP primary electorate wanted to hear. And those are the voters she, Perry and Debra Medina will be vying for in the primary.
Also check out the "heat index" veracity-checking of some of the claims made by last night's participants at TrailBlazers (Ryan Rusak gets the credit). Lastly, Jason Embry from the Statesman, followed by satirist Ken Herman with the zombie video.
The debate was notable for the themes it didn't hit. There was hardly any discussion of public education or state transportation policies, and the candidates laid out few specific ideas about what they want to do in office. ...
There were no major gaffes, although each candidate mangled a line or two. And no candidate was particularly specific when asked how to solve the state's looming budget shortfall, which the state is facing in large part because Perry and lawmakers have committed billions of dollars every year to hold down property taxes.
Well, now you've heard it straight from the GOP gubernatorial candidates. The decision is in: Texas, our Texas, is the greatest state in the land.
And if you tuned into Thursday night's GOP gubernatorial debate, you'd have reason to believe that Gov. Rick Perry and challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison each are individually responsible for our wonderfulness.
Both were certain in praising Texas' near-perfection. Neither, somehow, had much to say about any current problems, much less offering a solution to any current problems.
The short version: no runs, no hits, no errors and nary a word about solutions.
Update II: More on those zombies -- the ones outside the hall, not inside -- from Aman Batheja.