Steve Green, drunkblogging tonight’s GOP debate writes that Rick Perry “came in strong, but these last 20 minutes have been weak.” Even so, Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin writes that for now though, the race is Perry’s to lose:
Even though Romney did well, the debate nevertheless confirmed the dynamic of the GOP race that has emerged since Perry’s entrance. Romney is the only other Republican with a reasonable path to victory but his strategy of tilting to the middle of the road in order to compete with Perry is a certain loser in the vast majority of the 2012 primaries. Michele Bachmann has faded out of contention and now must be considered unlikely even to put forth a serious challenge to Perry even in Iowa where she has devoted so much time over the last few months. None of the other candidates have a prayer so that leaves Perry ready to cruise to the nomination.
This sets up a primary season which may bear a strong resemblance to 2000 when the only serious challenge to the nomination of another Texas governor came from a Republican who tried to win by running to the center. John McCain had no chance of beating George W. Bush 12 years ago and, if anything, the Republican Party is even more conservative today than it was then. That means Romney’s hopes of stopping Perry must be considered to be even slimmer than McCain’s were of beating Bush.
The 2000 Republican presidential nomination was decided early as Bush steamrollered McCain despite a loss in New Hampshire. Unless Perry does something a lot worse than using rhetoric about Social Security than the GOP core applauds, he will do the same to Romney next year. Right now it looks as if a Republican race that was thought to be quite competitive will be a snore.
Romney’s flacks are currently spinning like a dreidel* against Perry, which smacks of desperation, particularly given their chief vehicle of attack, the Politico, a popular, albeit JournoList-friendly center-left Website.
Related: At Newsbusters, “Video: Newt Gingrich Goes After Debate Moderator John Harris [of the Politico] for Biased Questioning.”
Update: Byron York at the Washington Examiner writes, “There was a lot of talk before the debate about whether Perry could win simply by showing up and doing pretty well — that is, whether he is currently in such a dominant position in the Republican race that just not messing up would be a win. Well, Perry showed up and did pretty well. But in his positions and statements on Social Security and immigration, his campaign faces mortal danger.”
*Or to the point of scrotal torque, depending upon which metaphor you prefer.