If Newt Gingrich holds to form in Tuesday night's GOP presidential primary debate in Nevada, he may well decide to answer a question on health care policy by invoking the threat of "death panels." He backed up Sarah Palin when she first tossed that rhetorical grenade against the Democrats' universal health care legislation in the summer of 2009 and he wielded the dread phrase again at the last debate in criticizing the new recommendations against routine testing for prostate cancer in older men. My colleague Jonathan Cohn did yeoman's work last week in rebutting Gingrich's specific attack on
The president's trip today to Virginia and North Carolina has set off another round of punditry about how much his reelection team is staking on holding those states next year, and how things are not looking so good there for him.
Kudos to Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times, who yesterday took on, in an illuminating but not-insensitive way, a key chapter in the life of Mitt Romney, the prominent leadership role he took within the Mormon church in metro Boston in the 1980s and '90s. The press has generally treaded so carefully around the fact of Romney's religion that I suspect many Americans don't realize how central the church has been to Romney's leadership resume.
Well, the wait is over. After explaining at this week's debate that he needed more time to produce an economic proposal because he, unlike Mitt Romney, hadn't been running for six years (a fair point, if you ask me), Rick Perry today revealed the grand plan. As he hinted at the debate, it is all about energy. Casting off limits on domestic energy production, oil drilling in particular, will create 1.2 million new jobs, Perry said: With a renewed commitment to developing American energy resources and technology, we will create American jobs – 1.2 million based on various studies.
Somewhat lost amid the circus of the Republican primary has been Mitt Romney's decision to take a hard line against China's trade and currency practices. Tough talk on China has become almost de rigueur for presidential challengers (who typically then take a much softer line in office), but Romney's rhetoric is especially striking coming from the businessman candidate, and Romney's been chided for it both by Jon Huntsman, the former China ambassador, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Last Friday, Rick Santorum raised eyebrows with remarks at the Values Voter summit urging voters to look more closely at who the candidates "lay down with at night." And yes, he meant that quite literally: “When you look at someone to determine whether they’d be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe in. Who is the person at their side who has... the closest counselor to that person?
Earlier today, I found myself chatting with a state senator from New Hampshire, Jack Barnes. He is a classic Granite State curmudgeon -- 80 years old, outspoken and conservative. But he is supporting the Massachusetts moderate, Mitt Romney. I asked him why he's not for, say, Rick Perry. Barnes didn't hesitate. "His stuff going on down there with illegal immigrant scholarships," he said. "That's absurd, horrible. I don't think he deserves even one shot at it based on that stuff. It's nuts.
Thanks to all for the smart responses to my query yesterday asking why it is that Rick Perry's maladroit debate performances are being judged to be so much more devastating to his prospects than were George W. Bush's back in 1999. My colleague Noam Scheiber, who will be soon be gracing the Stump on a regular basis, offered another theory that elaborates on one of my suggestions, that Perry suffers from a class bias, or as I put it: "Bush and his loyalists shrugged off his shaky debates with the cockiness of the prep-school slacker shrugging off a bad grade.
Even the most sober-minded political reporter is allowed the occasional frivolity, and with that license in mind I offer up this photo from my recent travels in Texas to report on the life and times of Rick Perry. This delightfully named municipality is just west of College Station, Perry's college stomping grounds. My peg -- because even frivolity needs a peg -- is that Perry may now have an opening with the Snooki vote, given that her nemesis Chris Christie has sided with Mitt Romney; and that the Snooki tax was up for official discussion today at the IRS. Hey, that's two pegs!
Now that the Night of the Roundtable is behind us, the primary campaign is moving into the phase when money and ads will matter more than Jon Huntsman's curious sense of humor or Michelle Bachmann's numerology.