Media coverage of last night's debate has been consumed by Rick Perry's onstage mental block, and for good reason. As I wrote over on the homepage, his inability to recall the three executive-branch agencies he would eliminate was more than your typical gaffe, quite possibly the most embarrassing moment from a presidential debate in the television era (I might be a little young to make such a claim, but reporters who have followed debates since 1960 concur).
Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry points to his head as he speaks during a Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Wednesday, November 9, 2011. At right is Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Meet Mitt Romney, your 2012 Republican nominee. From the get-go he was the field's front-runner, and the suspicion that he'll become the GOP nominee for president was only confirmed after last night's circus of a debate.
When he entered the race, Texas Governor Rick Perry was considered the savior of the religious right—the only candidate with conservative social views who could still appeal to mainstream America. His campaign has floundered for the past several months, but his pockets full of campaign cash made it easy for pundits to believe he could rise to the top. That hope dissipated in the second hour of last night's CNBC debate.
Iowa Democrats held on to a key state senate seat yesterday. Liz Mathis defeated Republican Cindy Golding by a 12-point margin, allowing Democrats to maintain their 26-24 majority in the chamber. If Golding had come out ahead, the two parties would have negotiated a power-sharing system, granting the GOP the leverage they would need to introduce their favored bills.*
Republicans have spent 2010 overhauling voter laws to design their ideal electorate. Last night, voters in Maine fought back, approving Question 1, which restores Election Day registration. It won easily by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent.
As I detailed in the November issue of the magazine, when Republicans gained control of Maine's legislative chambers and governor's office, they set their sights on building a permanent majority by passing restrictive voter laws. They failed to push a voter-ID bill through the legislature, but Republican Governor Paul LePage signed a repeal of Maine's Election Day registration this summer.
Rick Perry has tumbled from the top of the polls over the past two months with some polls this week putting him behind Newt Gingrich. Perry is the epitome of the Tea Party conservative on most issues, yet his slight divergences on immigration and an HPV vaccine mandate have convinced primary voters that the Texas governor is a RINO.
How's he going to bounce back? By appealing to the vilest desires of the GOP base. During an interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, Rick Perry offered some homophobic musings: