Last night, Texas Governor Rick Perry participated in his first 2012 Republican presidential debate. He sort of followed our advice—he went with a zinger straight to the hearts of senior citizens, calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie to our kids." NPR points out, "Here is the basic problem Perry has: For 70 years, Social Security has been one of the most popular and productive programs to help senior citizens. Republicans and Democrats have supported it. In the 1980s, along with Ronald Reagan, Congress made changes to strengthen it. Now, few argue that changes are not needed once again to strengthen it — but not to privatize it or let states opt out."
Also, senior citizens are more likely to vote in primaries. Still, Perry pressed on, firing at the other leading contender, Mitt Romney. From the NY Times:
Mr. Perry attacked Mr. Romney’s record of creating jobs in Massachusetts and his championing of health care legislation when he was governor. Mr. Romney, in turn, cast Mr. Perry as a career politician.
“Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt,” Mr. Perry said, referring to the former Democratic governor who ran for president in 1988.
“Well, as a matter of fact,” Mr. Romney replied, “George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor.”
The crowd of Republicans burst into laughter.
Do you know what else got the crowd involved? Hearing about Perry's record on executions. Moderator Brian Williams, the NBC anchor, asked, "Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?" The audience clapped at the statistic and Perry said, "No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at al. In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed."
Perry also said that the border between Texas and Mexico was not safe, though President Obama has claimed it is, "Either he has some of the poorest intel of a president in the history of this country, or he was an abject liar," and reaffirmed his skepticism of global warming, "The idea that we would put America's economy in jeopardy based on a scientific theory that is not settled is nonsense."
The Washington Post's list of winners and losers from the debate says first-half Perry was great but second-half Perry sucked. And for those of you who didn't see the debate, you can watch the whole thing or just watch this supercut:
Here's the whole debate:
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