Friday, November 11, 2011

Mitt Romney And Rick Perry's "Oops" Moment In The CNBC Debate

Much has been said about Rick Perry's blunder at the CNBC debate last night really damaged his campaign. Rick Perry's inability to mention the three federal agencies will be a small factor for why he will not win the GOP nomination.  Another small factor in his eventual loss in this election is that not only could Rick Perry not remember what his own proposals were, but he looked to a GOP rival, Ron Paul, (of all people) for help in remembering his own position. This doesn't make him look like a leader at all.

The biggest factor why Rick Perry will not get the Republican nomination and go on to campaign against President Obama is that he doesn't know his own policy positions that well. Mat Bai, writing for the Washington Post, explains this point clearly:
There’s nothing more central to Mr. Perry’s campaign than the idea of scaling back the government in Washington — that’s pretty much the whole tamale right there — and what he proved last night, in 60 or so agonizing seconds, is that he hasn’t thought deeply enough about it to even master the basics of his own agenda.
Mitt Romney, sensing a good opportunity to capitalize on this glaring weakness, suggested the EPA to Perry when he was struggling to list the three agencies he's like to get rid of:
Perry was discussing his jobs plan and his flat tax plan when he said: "And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the... what's the third one there? Let's see."
Perry then paused and there was audible laughter in the room. Texas Rep. Ron Paul then chimed in "You need five," to which Perry responded, "Oh, five, OK. So Commerce, Education, and the..."
Romney then suggested, "EPA?" to which Perry responded, "EPA, there you go, no..." with laughter from the candidate and the audience.
Moderator John Harwood from CNBC then asked, "Seriously, is the EPA the one you were talking about?"
"No, sir, no, sir. We were talking about the agencies of government -- the EPA needs to be rebuilt. There's no doubt about that," Perry responded.
Capitalizing on this moment of weakness was a stroke of brilliance for Mitt Romney. Rick Perry's knee jerk rejection of Romney's suggestion led him to make a minor gaffe about the EPA. Rick Perry was so busy dismissing his rival Mitt Romney that he also rejected the EPA as a federal agency until he caught himself and made a quick comment that it ought to be reformed.
Its clear that Rick Perry liked the idea of eliminating the EPA until he turned around to see who suggested the idea and then rejected it once he realized the idea came from Mitt Romney. Watch Rick Perry swat Mitt's suggestion away below:

The significance and brilliance of Mitt Romney's suggestion to Rick Perry is how little Perry knows his own policy position and exposed the fact his positions may not even be his own:  Matt Bai picks up on this subtle point:
The problem is that he didn’t seem to know the basic details of his own proposal. Here he was calling for what would be a truly radical restructuring of the federal government — involving many thousands of jobs and many billions of dollars in federal expenditures — and he didn’t have a grasp on which sprawling departments he would shutter. It seemed the idea was not his own, but rather something he had tried and failed to memorize.
This fact is demonstrated in the YouTube clip I posted above. If you listen carefully, after Rick Perry blunders through his comments on the EPA, he attempts to restate the three agencies that he would like to eliminate and Mitt Romney had to help him with the second agency by telling him it was the commerce department.Its clear that Rick Perry doesn't know his own positions or the positions of his opponents since its also important to mention how badly he botches his attack on Mitt Romney's health care plan in a previous debate. 
Perhaps the most significant point about Rick Perry's inability to state his own plans for which federal departments to eliminate is that it is painfully clear that he dived into the 2012 race without seriously thinking about it or what his positions are. 
In contrast, Mitt Romney done so well in every debate for precisely the reason Rick Perry hasn't. Mitt is solid in articulating his own positions. He's also fairly knowledgeable about the other competitor's positions and has seriously thought through WHY their positions are so flawed.  Mitt Romney's suggestion was a stroke of brilliance because it was a clever way to distinguish himself from Perry in a very powerful way that voters will not forget.
As a result, Mitt Romney is the best person to go up against Barack Obama since he has a firm command of his own positions and the positions of his opponents. Moreover, Mitt Romney has a keen ability to distinguish himself from his competitors either verbally or in the heat of the moment in the debate and he can do that in his debates with Obama. As a result, I'm excited to see Mitt Romney take on Obama in the 2012 Presidential debates.


  1. I reject the idea that Mitt was capitalizing on an opportunity. Everyone else was standing around saying nothing. Perry turned first to Ron Paul, who was useless because he simply corrected Perry's 3 government agencies to say, "No, there are five you should cut." Perry then turned to Mitt Romney, a humble questioning in his eyes. Mitt the chronic problem-solver saw a need and tried to fill it. He suggested an agency of the federal bureaucracy that has been a thorn in all of our sides - the EPA. Rick Perry should have gone with it.

    But this was not Mitt being political. This was Mitt being Mitt, the nice guy who can't stand to see someone struggle.

  2. yo, indy voter here again...did you see Ben Smith's blog over at Politico today?

    Smith has learned that George Will's wife is working for the Perry campaign, but not only that--she also applied to the Romney campaign back in June. For whatever reason the Romney team didn't hire her.

    So all this was before George's recent column excoriating Romney.

    Anyway, tomorrow during his stint on Christiane Amanpour's Sunday show panel, Will is going to start disclosing that his wife is working for Perry.

    If you haven't seen it already stop by Ben Smith's blog--he's got two entries on this story so you'll have to scroll down to find the first one.