Whether because of his relative inexperience as a debater or due to a simple lack of serious debate preparation, Perry's attacks seemed to have the unintended affect of making Romney, who clearly has been practicing his debate routine, look good.
But it wasn't even Romney or Perry who had the best debate line of the night. It was newcomer Gary Johnson, who in his first debate appearance, offered a crowd-pleasing zinger about President Obama's handling of the economy.
"My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration," Johnson declared, prompting his GOP rivals and the audience to erupt in laughter. (It later came to light that Johnson had lifted the joke from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.)
Rick Perry didn't receive a decent applause line until well into Thursday's night's pissing contest, and at times was jeered by the Orlando audience. My perception is that his Ponzi scheme nonesense is turning off voters, particularly the demographic that Florida is full of, and the recent polls seem to be bearing this out.
But my favorite line goes to Crazytown Bachmann, who when asked how much of every dollar should a taxpayer be allowed to keep, said "all of it". Um, then what exactly would you be able to govern, honey? Right. We get it.
Michele Bachmann, who seems to be getting less attention at the debates as her poll numbers fade, did try to gain momentum by repeating two of her previous attacks against Perry: His backing of an executive order in Texas that mandated the vaccination of young girls against HPV and his moderate stance on immigration.
But Bachmann's attacks offered Perry two of his strongest moments in the debate. In response to Bachmann's claims he was influenced on the HPV decision by campaign contributions, Perry looked into the camera and admitted he had been "lobbied" on HPV—by a young woman who had "stage four cervical cancer." ...
On immigration, Perry insisted nobody on the stage understands the subject as he does. Both Bachmann and Romney slammed Perry for backing legislation in Texas that allowed the children of illegal immigrants to attend state colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rates—a criticism Perry slammed as heartless.
"If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart," Perry said, as some in the audience erupted in boos. "We need to be educating these children because they will become a drag on our society. I think that's what Texans wanted to do."
Yes, booing. And that was likely before the Floridians in the audience got this news which the TexTrib broke yesterday...
Native-born Texans who were seeking employment likely lost out to competition from immigrants in recent years, according to a conservative think tank that advocates for limited migration to the country.
The data, compiled by the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, may provide some low-hanging fruit for Gov. Rick Perry’s Republican opponents. Perry has been attacked from the right on immigration with his field of challengers alleging he’s been too soft on illegal immigrants in Texas. The study estimates that population benefited from Texas’ job growth the last four years more than citizens.
The center found that of the 279,000 jobs created in Texas since the second quarter of 2007, 225,000 — about 80 percent — went to legal and illegal immigrants. The center says that while “no estimate of illegal immigration is exact,” at least 40 percent of the job recipients were illegal immigrants.
“Of recently arrived working-age immigrants in the state, 113,000 are in the country illegally. The other half of the recently arrived immigrants (112,000) are legally in the country,” the reports says. “This means that in Texas — one of the few states that experienced job growth after 2007 — native-born workers benefited little from this growth.”
It should be noted here -- since the Texas Tribune did not -- that the Center for Immigration Studies is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA are all part of a network of restrictionist organizations conceived and created by John Tanton, the “puppeteer” of the nativist movement and a man with deep racist roots... CIS was conceived by Tanton and began life as a program of FAIR. CIS presents itself as a scholarly think tank that produces serious immigration studies meant to serve “the broad national interest.” But the reality is that CIS has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked, and it has frequently manipulated data to achieve the results it seeks." (emphasis theirs)
But that won't matter to people who boo gay soldiers.
Not unlike the past debate, the forum included a potentially ugly moment for the party. The presidential hopefuls took a question via YouTube from a openly gay soldier serving Iraq about the possibility of "don't ask, don't tell" being reinstated.
The question was posed to Rick Santorum, but before he answered, there were audible boos in the audience —- something he and other GOP candidates on stage didn't acknowledge.
Video here. The sad thing is that I almost expected it after the cheering of Rick Perry's record-breaking executions and letting uninsured people die, so I wasn't all that surprised to hear it.
The least worst of the three debates this month in terms of exposing the Grand Old Party of Hate, and also the least successful for Rick Perry's career advancement.
Update: Related reading ...
FACT CHECK: Slippery assertions in GOP debate
The Not Quite Ready for Primetime Debate
Perry takes lumps for ‘soft’ position on illegal immigration in GOP debate
Perry met cancer victim ‘lobbyist’ after signing HPV order
Huntsman warns conservatives against purity tests