A Smart Politics review of the last five presidential debates finds Mitt Romney averaging approximately four minutes more speaking time per debate (14 minutes, 40 seconds) than his closest rival for the cameras, Rick Perry (10 min. 46 sec.), and averaging greater than six minutes more speaking time per debate compared to each of the remaining six members of the GOP field.
Politico sums up the GOP presidential race: “Romney rivals continue to implode.”
First Read: “Twelve years ago, would George W. Bush — who, remember, wasn’t that good of a debater early in the 1999-2000 campaign — have still cruised through the GOP primary season in today’s current system where debates play such an important role? The fact of the matter is that the televised debates have turned into Iowa, becoming the first true test for the candidates and the first bar to clear. And that development hasn’t helped Perry one bit. Four years ago, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were able to campaign for about three months in Iowa and New Hampshire before their first primary debate. But get this: Perry has been a candidate for less than THREE months (Aug. 13 to now), and last night was his SIXTH debate.”
A new Gallup survey
finds President Obama back to even with a generic Republican candidate,
leading 43% to 42%, a marked improvement over polls from September and
October, when Obama trailed 38% to 46%.
“The evenness of independents’
preferences marks a significant change from September and October, when
independents favored the Republican candidate by a significant margin.
The current pattern more closely resembles where independents were
earlier this year, when Obama and the Republican were evenly
matched… The changes in this survey matchup between Obama and a
generic Republican candidate no doubt foreshadow the potential political
volatility to come over the next 12 months.”
“I am the government.”
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), quoted by Capital Tonight,
addressing popular distrust of the New York State government despite
his own strong approval numbers in an “assertion, which if taken out of
context, could be a potentially tough one for the governor to live down
Rick Perry’s painful debate stumble last night was so serious he’ll appear on every morning news show in an attempt to rescue his flailing campaign.
“After a series of stumbling performances, the governor of Texas
attempted to tick off the three federal agencies he would abolish, and
was stumped at two. He paused, regrouped, and still couldn’t come up
with the missing one (the Energy Department, which is hardly obscure).
It was the only Perry moment anyone will remember, and a metaphor for
his erratic campaign.”
Brad Phillips: “With his bumbling answer, Mr. Perry reinforced the now almost irreversible perception that he is not ready for prime time. That indelible moment will linger, and will likely doom his campaign.”
Jonathan Chait: “And that’s it for Rick Perry. His latest debate performance was so
world-historically awful that it truly seems beyond all repair.”
Three new Quinnipiac polls show President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, “the three states that for the past half-century have predicted the presidential winner… Since 1960, no candidate has won the presidency without carrying at least two of these three states.”
Romney leads Obama in Florida, 45% to 42%. But Obama leads Romney in Ohio, 45% to 42%, and in Pennsylvania, 44% to 43%.
The president also has solid leads over the other top GOP contenders, although half the voters in each state say he does not deserve a second term.
If you missed last night’s Republican presidential debate, the Daily Beast has a good compilation of the best moments.
Mitt Romney prevailed in yet another GOP debate. He was the home team candidate on his home turf: the economy and jobs. He’s comfortable on the stage and is at least a full notch above the other candidates.
Herman Cain easily batted down an early question about the sexual harassment allegations made against him. It helped that the audience booed the questioner and Romney took a pass on challenging him. Unless the allegations get worse, it’s unlikely that any of his rivals will go near the issue.
Cain also scored well with his message of tax simplification. He’s getting better at explaining his 9-9-9 plan — however flawed it may be — and the message of a simple tax code resonates well.
Newt Gingrich was also very solid. He’s running against the media and his combativeness with the moderators was very appealing to Republican voters. If Romney doesn’t begin to attract more support within his party, Gingrich could be a surprise winner in one or more of the early primary states. He’s definitely moved into the top tier of this relatively weak field.
Rick Perry did nothing more than recite slogans — which he couldn’t even memorize. His inability to remember his own talking points made it was his worst debate yet. He’s finished as a viable candidate. He’ll live on forever in videos of debate gaffes.
Ron Paul was the most ideologically consistent candidate but his ideas are way out of the mainstream even within today’s Republican party. Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman simply take time away from the other candidates.
Jefferson County, Alabama, filed the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy after an agreement among elected officials and investors to refinance $3.1 billion in sewer bonds fell apart, Bloomberg reports.
Matt Taibbi, from earlier this year: “The genesis of the whole affair was a sewer project that crooked local
pols turned into a $3 billion money pit; when they turned to Wall Street
to help finance their way out of the cost overruns, the banks leaned on
the County to take on a series of swap deals that essentially pushed
the debt into the future, but at geometrically increasing cost. Among
other things, the banks worked through middlemen who bribed the local
commissioners into taking the toxic deals. As a result of all of this,
Jefferson County not only ended up saddled with an astronomical debt
service on its sewer project, it also saw a downgrade in its overall
credit rating, which left it paralyzed in its attempts to borrow money
to pay for general expenditures.”
The Birmingham News notes that since 1981, 35 cities, towns, villages and counties nationwide have filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, including five in Alabama.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) predicted a third political party will emerge in response to Americans’ economic frustrations and said it might as well be called “the Fed-Up Party,” Reuters reports.
Said McCain: “Unless both parties change, then I think that it’s an inevitability. We aren’t doing anything for the people.”
A new Rasmussen survey in Florida finds Herman Cain leading the Republican field with 30%, followed by Mitt Romney at 24% and Newt Gingrich at 19%.
Ron Paul told Fox News that President Obama use of executive orders “brings the modern presidency dangerously close to an elective dictatorship.”
Said Paul: “It is flaunting the Constitution and the whole principle of how we’re supposed to operate. The idea they can just do this and take over the legislative function and brag about it — and Congress does nothing and the courts do nothing about it, it’s very, very bad.”
He added: “He’s dictatorial, is what he is.”
A new Clemson Palmetto Poll in South Carolina finds Mitt Romney edging Herman Cain in the GOP presidential race among those who have decided on a candidate, 22% to 20%, with Newt Gingrich at 10% and Rick Perry at 9%.
All other candidates are at 3% or less.
Big caveat: 68% of those polled had not yet decided on a
candidate and a similar number said they were most likely to change
their minds between now and January when they do have a choice.
A new Univision poll of Latino voters in 21 states with the largest Latino populations finds President Obama with a strong advantage among that growing demographic group.
In general election match ups against the three top Republican contenders, Obama earns between 65% and 68% of the vote — roughly the same percentage of the Hispanic vote he won in 2008.
Key finding: “Latinos are not as torn about the president as the rest of the country: 66% of Latinos approve of the job Obama has done, while only 29% disapprove.”
Piers Morgan made a big mistake trying to explain “the reality of politics” to Newt Gingrich, who wasn’t pleased to hear he was jockeying to be the anti-Mitt Romney candidate in the GOP presidential field.
Said Gingrich: “Now, see, this is what I find fascinating, okay. I’ve been involved with politics since 1958. I helped grow the modern Republican Party of Georgia. I helped create a national majority, and you’re explaining to me the reality of politics.”
He added: “The reality of politics is if you have a good enough leader who is positive enough, they can ignore the other candidates, they can create a positive majority around a positive set of solutions, and let the other candidate worry about me.”
“The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility. They’re on an anti-tax jihad — one that benefits the prosperous classes.”
— Former Reagan budget director David Stockman, in an interview with Rolling Stone.