Hours after Chris Christie signaled he believes Mitt Romney is the Republican party’s inevitable nominee, Romney and the rest of the GOP field went about proving him right.
Romney again outclassed the opposition in Tuesday’s Bloomberg/Washington Post debate. Again, none of the other GOP contenders laid a glove on him. And in a telling move that seemed to acknowledge the limits of Rick Perry’s candidacy, the Texas governor effectively tried to survive the debate by not losing it.
After starting the day with a coveted endorsement from Christie, the New Jersey governor who may have posed the most serious threat to Romney’s candidacy, the former Massachusetts governor ended it by standing above an increasingly muddled group of rivals. Aided by a group of competitors who’ve risen and fallen — or not run altogether — the former Massachusetts governor’s steady-as-he-goes strategy has returned him to unqualified frontrunner status.
John McCormack writes at The Weekly Standard:
Debates are not my strong suit," Texas governor Rick Perry conceded, in a bit of an understatement, while talking to reporters after Tuesday night's GOP presidential debate at Dartmouth College. "But you know we get up and do 'em and we just try to let people see our passion."
Perry's debate performance was not disastrous like the September 22 showing in Florida that sent him spiraling downward in the polls. But it wasn't close to what he needed to bounce back. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain dominated the debate Tuesday evening, with Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann offering flashes of wit and intelligence. Perry just seemed sleepy and lackluster. He lacked command of the room and, at times, his words.
Perry spent 10 minutes shaking hands after he spoke. He asked students questions about their lives, displaying a near-Clintonesque ability to make each student feel like he or she is the only one in the room. The dull Perry who showed up at Tuesday's debate was not the same upbeat and good humored Perry who showed up at the Beta house.
And yet, despite the glimmers of hope, it was hard not to see many of Perry's biggest problems still on display. First, there was a gaffe. When one student asked about the 10th amendment, Perry said: "The Founding Fathers never meant for Washington, D.C. to be the fount of all wisdom. As a matter of fact, they were very much afraid of that because they had just had this experience with this far away government that had centralized thought process and planning and what have you. And it was actually the reason that we fought the Revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that type of onerous crown, if you will." (Sixteenth century? Forget it, he's rolling.)