How did the Republican candidates perform last night? In particular, how did Rick Perry perform, considering he was the newcomer and now top polling contender for the nomination?
Reviews are mixed.
Two British papers, who have in some ways been more honest in their reporting of our politics than our own, thought Perry won. The Daily Mail had this headline: “Did Rick Perry just win the GOP race for the White House? Texas governor sails through TV debate as Mitt Romney comes up short.” They saw him as “straight talking and confident,” “defied expectations he might falter” and “put forward the most coherent philosophy of all the candidates.” The Telegraph wrote “Rick Perry is now the man to beat and Mitt Romney knows it.”
The New Republic’s headline said, “How Rick Perry Won the Debate.” The National Review Online wrote “Perry Lead” and editor Rich Lowry said “I underestimated Rick Perry. He was loose, confident, likable – and blunt as hell.” He’s “off to a very good start.”
Michael Barone wrote in the Washington Examiner: “Rick Perry did not perform commensurately with his recent lead in the polls, but did not do badly either. Mitt Romney was smooth and sometimes even interesting and some of the other candidates did quite well.”
Dick Morris agreed. He tweeted, ” Polls will likely show Perry down, Romney up, Cain up, Bachmann unchanged, Newt up, Huntsman up, Paul same.”
Hugh Hewitt dubbed it “The (Long) Two Man Race Ahead.” Hewitt said “the consensus is both Romney and Perry had good nights, though Romney’s was a little bit better.”
At the American Spectator George Neumayr complained about the drab debate. He wondered why candidates would agree to a debate headed by MSNBC picks. But, he found “Perry seemed to survive his debate debut, the principal source of drama for the evening. His performance was neither impeccable nor disastrous…He seized his chance to nail Mitt Romney, introducing one interesting piece of information into the conversations, that ‘Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.’ A bit stung, Romney rejoined that George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did.”
On Laura Ingraham’s radio show, commentator Raymond Arroyo said he likes to mute the sound and watch candidates’ body language. He found Rick Perry seemed the most presidential, with “a winsome, Reagan quality” while Romney seemed stiff. He observed that in the end, for many voters, it is the way the man stands and looks that gets their vote.
He makes a valid point.