After Labor Day's extended nonsense, I wasn't too eager to watch any more Republican debates. Bah. So I skipped last night's; I figured there would be plenty more where that came from.
It turns out the big news is what happened during the commercials.
According to RonPaul.com:
During a commercial break at Wednesday’s Republican debate, Rick Perry and Ron Paul continued their spirited exchange on stage. Suddenly, Perry grabbed Ron Paul’s forearm while aggressively pointing his index finger towards the Congressman’s face. Alerted by Perry’s menacing gestures, Ron Paul’s bodyguard [front left in photo below] was standing by, ready to protect the Congressman.But don't expect to find out what all the hoopla is about, since Ron has forgotten it already:
On Thursday, a Rick Perry spokesman stated that the two contenders were having a “cordial conversation” about border security, while Ron Paul diplomatically downplayed the incident, saying he did not even remember the exchange.I don't believe that for a minute, but I like how he disses Perry as not memorable. AND not worth getting upset over.
And quite honestly, who looks ruffled in these photos? It isn't the good doctor.
From the Washington Times account titled Perry vs. Paul: A Texas-sized war:
At one point when the video cameras weren’t rolling — though the incident was caught by still photographers — Mr. Perry walked over Mr. Paul’s lectern, took hold of the congressman’s wrist and wagged his finger at him.
A spokesman for Mr. Perry said Thursday it was a policy conversation, not a heated exchange.
“The governor and the congressman talked about border security. It was a cordial conversation,” said Mark Miner.
The two Texans, though, lost few opportunities to focus on one another in the debate.
The first shot was invited by the debate moderators, who asked Mr. Paul to expand on his accusations, made in recent days, that Mr. Perry, who has spent more than a decade as governor of Texas, is less conservative than voters think.
“Just take the HPV,” Mr. Paul said, referring to Mr. Perry’s scrapped plan to require schoolgirls in the state to be given a vaccine against the sexually transmitted virus. “Forcing 12-year-old girls to take an inoculation to prevent this sexually transmitted disease, this is not good medicine, I do not believe. I think it’s social misfit.”
Mr. Perry acknowledged he’d gone about the plan the wrong way when he tried to bypass the legislature, but said he’d been trying to combat cervical cancer, which can result from HPV, and said his plan would have allowed parents to opt out of the inoculation program.
Later, after Mr. Perry criticized the health care law Mr. Romney signed in Massachusetts, Mr. Paul jumped in and said Mr. Perry should worry about his own record, since he had written “a really fancy letter supporting Hillarycare” — the health program former first lady Hillary Clinton tried to enact in the 1990s.
Mr. Perry fired back, pointing to a letter Mr. Paul wrote in 1987 announcing he was dropping out of the the party he now seeks to lead because he was disappointed in then-President Reagan.I'd love to read the Ron Paul letter. It will probably be guarded as closely as the Fatima Letter though, and we'll never get the chance.
“Speaking of letters, I was more interested in the one that you wrote to Ronald Reagan back and said I’m going to quit the party because of the things you believe in,” Mr. Perry said.
He didn’t any further before Mr. Paul insisted on responding.
“I support the message of Ronald Reagan. The message was great. But the consequence — we have to be honest with ourselves — it was not all that great,” Mr. Paul said.
The attacks kept up even during the commercial breaks — and not just on stage. Mr. Paul had paid to run an ad during the MSNBC broadcast attacking Mr. Perry, pointing to his support for Al Gore’s presidential bid in the 1980s, including twice calling the governor a “cheerleader.”
“Al Gore found a cheerleader in Texas named Rick Perry,” the ad announcer intones.
It's getting interesting.
As I've said, I have already called South Carolina for Perry (barring any unforeseen scandals, and he looks like he eats scandals for breakfast, so that's a big caveat), and I haven't changed my mind since his visit here in the upstate on August 19th. But the Ron Paul people have also figured this out, and they know who to go after. They are INTENT on winning South Carolina and are very single-minded and hard-working.
Could they do it?
Well, maybe if they start talking about the fact that the reason Texas is burning up right now is that Rick Perry slashed fire departments around the state, to the tune of $23 million... from $30 million to $7 million. And now they have uncontrollable wildfires they can't stop. What about that?
Oh wait, Ron wants to cut MORE than that (including cops, according to what I heard him say in the Labor Day debate), so of course, he can't criticize Perry on THAT score. Ron would let the state burn too, wouldn't he? Or would he? Let's talk about THAT, and the 1400 people burned out of their homes by Republican greed. OR we could talk about where Rick Perry's gets his money, conservative Texas tycoon James Leininger:
Leininger also helped bankroll the transformation of the Texas GOP from a merely conservative party to one dominated by religious fundamentalists. Partly because of his influence, the Texas political culture that Rick Perry emerges from is significantly more right-wing than the one that shaped George W. Bush. And now that Perry is running for president, Leininger is working to make sure that national conservative Christian leaders coalesce behind himLeininger is in tight with the fundies, as owner of Promised Land Dairy, which sells milk in bottles printed with Bible verses.
And now he is going to sell Rick Perry, former buddy of Al Gore, to the Religious Right.
Stay tuned, sports fans.