Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Las Vegas Debate aka Conservative Slap Fight

Well, that was entertaining.

The Republican presidential candidates met in Las Vegas last night for the latest debate. As appropriate for the location, it was a wild evening with some of the nastiest fights ever between the candidates yet and even an appearance by Wayne Newton.

I've got the Twitter trending topics (from right after the debate ended) for you, and then some random little thoughts about the debate itself:
Worldwide: Romney & Perry  #cnndebate  Libya is in Africa
United States: Romney & Perry  Foreign Aid  Libya is in Africa
Atlanta: Romney and Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Yucca Mountain
Austin: #CNNDebate, Anderson Cooper, TARP, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Baltimore: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry
Birmingham: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Israel, Romney
Boston: Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann
Charlotte: #CNNDebate, Rick Santorum, Anderson Cooper, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Chicago: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul's, Anderson Cooper, Michelle Bachmann
Cinncinnati: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Cleveland: Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Columbus: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Newt
Dallas - Ft. Worth: Romney and Perry, Anderson Cooper, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Denver: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Newt, Herman Cain, GOP
Greensboro: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Rick Perry
Detroit: #CNNDebate
Houston: Anderson Cooper, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney
Indianapolis: Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Romney 
Jackson: Ron Paul
Las Vegas: #CNNDebate, Anderson Cooper, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Romney
Los Angeles: TARP, Michelle Bachmann
Memphis: Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Perry
Miami: #CNNDebate, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul
Milwaukee: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul, Romney, Herman Cain
Minneapolis: #cnndebate, Ron Paul
Nashville: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry
New Haven: Ron Paul
New Orleans: Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Perry
New York: Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul's, Romney and Perry, Wayne Newton
Norfolk: #cnndebate, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Perry
Orlando: Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry
Philadelphia: Michelle Bachmann, Anderson Cooper 
Phoenix: ANDERSON COOPER, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt 
Pittsburgh: #CNNDebate
Portland: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt, Herman Cain
Providence: #CNNDebate, Ron Paul
Raleigh: #cnndebate, Anderson Cooper, Ron Paul 
Richmond: Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Sacramento: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain
San Antonio: Ron Paul, Herman Cain
San Diego: #CNNDebate, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Perry
San Francisco: Michelle Bachmann
Seattle: #CNNdebate, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Romney, Rick Perry 
St. Louis: Ron Paul, Herman Cain 
Tallahassee: Herman Cain, Ron Paul 
Tampa: #CNNDebate, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
Washington: TARP, Michelle Bachmann, Libya is in Africa, Yucca Mountain, Wayne Newton
During the pre-debate commentary, I was very entertained to hear Wolf Blitzer comment that one minute answers and 30 second rebuttals were inadequate for thoughtful responses. Exactly! So can someone explain to me why all the debates are in this format?

I'm loving that enough debate-watchers on Twitter were commenting on Wayne Newton's attendance that he started trending. Hmmm, maybe he and Herman Cain should sing a duet?

Moderator Anderson Cooper took a hands-off approach, announcing at the beginning that there would be "no bells, no buzzers" and for the most part, he let the candidates go after each other...and they did. Talking over the time limits, directly interrogating each other, interruptions, even getting a bit physical, as Romney attempted to deflect a Perry attack by reaching over and putting his hand on Perry's shoulder:

You know Perry really wanted to slap Romney's hand away.
The bitter brawls that kept breaking out between Romney and Perry were so noteworthy that "Romney and Perry" became a trending topic all on its own. Byron York has a good write up at the Washington Examiner.

Oooh. Perry has his serious face on. And Romney is TOUCHING him! Slap fight in 3...2...1... #CNNdebateWed Oct 19 00:42:39 via UberSocial for BlackBerry

Romney and Perry weren't the only ones to get a little scrappy. Santorum was especially shrill last night, and he got into a verbal sparring match with Romney as well. I kept expecting Anderson Cooper to come back from commercial break and announce that  the candidates were going to start mud wrestling.

Romney did his best to hold it together and never completely melted down, but he was definitely flustered several times and it was not his best night. I have a feeling he will later regret letting such a juicy soundbite as "I'm running for office, I can't have illegals" escape his lips. Worst moment: when he whined to Cooper for help when he couldn't get Perry to shut up. Ugh...

Perry was better last night than he has been at previous debates (as Erick Erickson commented, "Where has this Rick Perry been?"), and he landed a solid blow on Romney on the immigration issue. I'm not convinced it's enough to resuscitate his campaign, especially in Florida, but he at least avoided doing himself any more significant damage. Having met Perry (albeit briefly) in Charleston, I know he is a likable and sincere guy, but he is still having trouble showing his strengths when on a national stage. Plus, there's that unfortunate "sometimes reminds people of George W. Bush" problem:

@melissamoore @rumpfshaker New Cooler. That's nuclear in Texas.Wed Oct 19 01:08:55 via TweetDeck

As a political junkie, I own a lot of political books, including several by the current presidential candidates (like this current best seller, for example). However, I am sick and tired of listening to the candidates bickering back and forth about what was said in whose book. Yaaaawn. None of these books are so relevant that they deserved as much debate time as they've been getting. Tell me about what you've accomplished in the past, tell me what your plans are for the future, but please, please, please, shut up about the books!

And, ooh, poor Jon Huntsman. Can't get anyone to take him seriously. Lots of people joking on twitter about how last night was his "best debate performance yet." (ICYMI: Huntsman was not there.)

That's Libya. Yep, it's in Africa.
I'm still laughing at "Libya is in Africa" - which started trending worldwide after Bachmann's gaffe, in which she criticized Obama's foreign policy by saying "He put us in Libya. Now he's put us in Africa."

Bachmann apparently learned nothing from her crash and burn in the polls after misrepresenting the Gardisil issue when she was attacking Perry, as tonight she stubbornly kept calling Cain's 9-9-9 Plan a Value Added Tax. It is NOT. A sales tax and a VAT are not the same thing. You'd think a tax attorney would understand that, but she pulled the broken record routine and kept insisting that Cain's plan would lead to a VAT.

If #Bachmann thinks a 9% business income tax is a VAT, what does she call the current 35% business income tax? #tcot #tpp @THEHermanCainWed Oct 19 03:12:29 via HootSuite

Romney did a similar dance of misdirection when he grilled Cain on the difference between state sales taxes and the federal sales tax under the 9-9-9 Plan. Cain pointed out that state sales taxes are a separate thing and out of the federal government's control with a simple analogy - "it's apples and oranges!" - and Romney kept acting confused and demanding that Cain explain himself. Personally, I didn't buy his act. Romney knows darn well the difference between state and federal taxes, and was just trying to make 9-9-9 sound more confusing than it really is.
Apples and oranges, state and federal taxes = NOT THE SAME THINGS.
Herman Cain stayed strong and didn't blink, despite all the attacks on his 9-9-9 Plan. The plan is appealing to a lot of Americans because of its simplicity, and apparently a lot of people are listening to his invitation to study the plan on their own: when Cain asked viewers to look up the plan on, the website crashed for awhile, reminiscent of how the site was crashing during the excitement after the Florida straw poll win. People like Cain, the "great optimist," and when he says "go to my website," they go. Should be fun to see what happens in a few months when he says "go vote for me!" Heh.

Those who wrongly criticize @TheHermanCain 999 plan clearly have more time to read 72k pages of tax code vs. 3 pages of common sense #tcotWed Oct 19 01:57:27 via Twaitter

Jeff Emanuel has a great RedState post on Cain's comments about the negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. I recommend you read it before you make up your mind on the issue.

Cain's comments about the Occupy Wall Street protests were great, getting some of the loudest applause of the evening. He's absolutely right: the protesters are letting their anger get misdirected at Wall Street instead of the White House.

What does #OWS want? For the bankers to come down and write them a check? #cnndebateWed Oct 19 01:15:11 via TweetDeck

Newt Gingrich should be getting his official Smartest Guy In The Room™ t-shirt any day now. There is an amazing library of knowledge between his ears, and he accesses the information with ease. His answer about Hispanic Americans was right on (pointing out that the vast majority of them are here legally, and want the same things as all Americans), and even his answer to a faith question was sincere and thoughtful.

"How can I trust you if you don't pray?" Newt really gave an awesome answer.Wed Oct 19 01:22:28 via Twitter for Mac

This was another virtuoso debate performance by Newt Gingrich. My favorite Newtism: that he was a "Cheap Hawk," meaning that he supported a strong national defense program, but was certainly willing to make cuts to eliminate waste and fraud. Alas, Gingrich continues to be held back the most by Gingrich. Beyond the personal stuff...just Google his name and "scozzafava" or "pelosi global warming" and you'll see plenty of reasons why conservatives are hesitant.

I do not see the point of including Santorum in any more of these debates. When he's not angry, he's annoying and petulant. His demagoguery on military spending was just pathetic: if he honestly believes that there's not one penny that should be cut from the department of defense, he's an idiot, and if he doesn't believe it, then he's just desperately pandering to the neocon voting block.

Even when Gingrich was barely registering in the polls, he still contributed to the discussion. And as far as Santorum's claim that he's the "only" candidate who ever won in a swing state, well, let me remind him that the last time he ran, he lost in that swing state, and he's not exactly topping the polls there now.

I imagine Santorum received his share of wedgies in his younger years.Wed Oct 19 00:31:39 via Mobile Web

Bachmann is also getting tiresome. Tim Pawlenty may not be in the race anymore, but he did everyone a service by pointing out the reality of her time in Congress: she may say she's a tough fighter, but she unfortunately has few concrete legislative accomplishments to show for it. It's sad to see a former tea party hero becoming a joke (I'm not the only one who rolls my eyes every time she starts a sentence reminding the audience that she's a mother).

Here's a transcript of the debate, from CNN. I'm having a little trouble finding a good video link for the entire debate but will try and post one later. (If you have one, please share in the comments!)

I'll conclude with this Tweet from Jedediah Bila:

For those repeating that we have a weak field, I offer 1 reminder: Take a look at their opposition. He is a complete and utter failure.Wed Oct 19 01:18:19 via web


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