Reminiscent of a Southwestern shoot-out, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sparred as they sought to establish themselves as front-runners in last night’s Las Vegas GOP debate. The debate was marked by bickering between the candidates as opposed to their presenting actual stances on the issues, thus raising concerns about the effectiveness of the candidates overall.
Perry gunned for Romney, Romney fired back over immigration, and Herman Cain scrambled to defend his 9-9-9 plan.
It seemed as though Perry’s only concern was to attack Romney. The Texan criticized Romney’s stance on immigration when he called into question the “hypocrisy” of Romney’s hiring of illegal immigrants for landscaping work. Perry contended that he was an “authentic conservative,” distinguishing himself from Romney who he called “a conservative of convenience.” This effectively turned a debate of seven into a fight between two.
Romney fired back, pointing out that Perry has had a “tough couple of debates,” and cited Perry’s lackluster and unsteady performance in the previous GOP debate outings.
Romney in turn criticized Perry’s support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The clash escalated further as Romney grew agitated by the incessant interruptions from Perry, saying “I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States you have got to let both people speak.”
While the bickering between the two took center stage, there were still sporadic criticisms of Cain’s proposed “9-9-9” tax reform. Cain, who polls at the top of all candidates with Romney, lacked fervor as he defended himself against the critics of his proposed tax plan. If only Cain could better explain the 9-9-9 plan, asserting a stronger front against the assumption that it would raise taxes for 94% of Americans, instead of strictly defending the "opportunity zones," it would have not been such a downer night for him.
The debate confirmed my concerns that the seven candidates could dissemble their true colors to the American public right up until the election. It seemed as though all of the candidates ganged up on Romney, yet somehow, he wound up on top. The ability to hold your own against a bevy of opponents is crucial to assume the role of president, and if the election were tomorrow, I'd argue that Romney remains the man for the job.