The debate here at the Reagan Library made one thing crystal clear: At least for right now, this is definitely a two-man race for the nomination.
Let’s be frank about what these next couple months will be about for Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. In various ways, each campaign will try and label each other. The first one to successfully do so will probably win.
If the Romney camp can peg the “extreme” label on Perry, then Romney has an excellent shot at the nomination. If Perry can paint Mitt as the “centrist who will say anything to get elected,” then Perry will probably win the nomination.
Of course the problem for both of them is that if either one of them does win the nomination, they will end up being badly bruised going into the General Election. President Obama will be smiling like a cheshire cat.
There will be another key battle at play, probably just as important. Romney and Perry will duke it out on the jobs front. The game show will be, “Who can create the most jobs as president?” The winner of that major skirmish will also go a long way to solidifying their bid to become the Republican nominee.
As for Michele Bachmann, she’s going to need for Perry and Romney to slip up. If Perry puts his foot in his mouth in these next few months, that will be good news for her politically. It will also be good news for Romney, too. That’s why Bachmann needs Romney to somehow get sidetracked.
The probability of either Perry or Romney messing up is low but the chances of BOTH of them faltering will be extremely rare (Put it this way: there is a better chance of me eating a bowl of olives and liverwurst blindfolded).
Having said all that, Bachmann is a tireless campaigner and has a strong base of support in Iowa. She must win Iowa or she’s done.
Now, as for the debate itself it struck me how quickly Perry went on the attack. He wasn’t messing around. Don’t mess with Texas right? A frontrunner typically doesn’t go on the offensive, especially so quickly, yet he did.
What that tells me is that Perry is comfortable in his own skin, has bravado, and isn’t afraid to mix it up. His boldness to take on his Republican colleagues (in his first debate, no less!) means he’s got a lot of chutzpah! (I grew up Jewish…Google it.)
In this Tea Party climate, that straight up, unapologetic talk could indeed be the winning ticket.
As for Romney, you have to hand it to the guy. He is solid as a rock (Cue the Ashford and Simpson music. Do another Google search). The guy is unflappable. He doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t say anything provocative, and he always comes across as calm, cool, collected and reasonable.
That translates to very presidential and you get the sense that if he gets the nomination, he would probably have an easier road appealing to Independents. To use the Goldilocks and the Three Bears analogy, if Perry is too hot for voters and the other candidates are too cold for voters to warm to, then Romney may be just right.
Goodnight from California. I’m going to eat my bowl of porridge and go to sleep.