It’s difficult to see how Governor Perry walks away from this debate without any chinks in his armor. Ron Paul’s dig as a Texas resident in particular drew some blood, and even what sounded like gasps from the Tea Party crowd. However, his later ramblings about Saudi military bases may have undercut any chance of his performance carrying weight.
It’s understandable that the punditocracy maintains its abiding faith in Perry’s ability to give “the base” ”what it wants”. However, said base most likely wants a nominee who can actually share a debate stage with the incumbent, and one exchange with Romney was particularly alarming in this regard: When Perry attempted to evade the Social Security issue, Romney sounded almost incredulous: “We’re having a conversation right now, Governor! We’re running for President!”. It was a moment that almost seemed as if Romney himself is losing patience with the fact that his biggest obstacles to the nomination this go-round are two figures whose grasp of issues can scarcely be troubled with fact or reality.
Much as I hate to say it, Bachmann came away from tonight fairly well, showing exactly why Tea Party voters elevated her to this stage in the first place. But God help us if she starts to gain traction by hitting Perry for forcing children to get “government injections.”