Speaking of candidate and later President Reagan, Peter says below , “He had as little baggage as a man with his firm principles could have.”

Let me add the thought that Perry, in comparison, has heavier baggage. He’s too text book in his ideology and policy, and Romney even called him out regarding whether he actually wrote his soon to be unread best-seller Fed Up! The debate almost veered in the direction of a booksellers’ convention as Perry and Romney parsed the intricate arguments of each other’s book.

Perry, I think, doesn’t really know what he is talking about when it comes to foreign policy (and perhaps on other things as well). He deflected a question about Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of Islamic extremists by saying that Pakistan needs to be better friends with India who is our strong ally and trading partner. In this, he showed that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but that he at least knows his geography.

Compared to Romney, Perry’s answers were stiff except when he spoke of Texas. But Perry, for all of his federalism, isn’t running for governor of Texas.

So I actually watched the debate, and I must admit that compared to Perry, Romney did better. But who else is there anyway?

Romney said, and Santorum piled on, that Perry’s policy of subsidies of K through 12 education for shildren of illegal immigrants—and more importantly of subsidies onwards up through the community college and even university system of Texas—is a “magnet” for only increased illegal immigration. This is a common critique. In fact, the immigrant Peter Brimelow made the same case nearly 20 years ago in his book Alien Natio n (which should in no way be confused with Lawler’s Aliens in America !).

Had Perry known his NRBQ, he could have responded to Romney’s magnetic line of critique, “If I’m like a magnet, then you’re like a piece of wood.” Zing! But it seems that only Hunstman can offer the inappropriate (and albeit incorrect) references to recent pop/rock music. BTW—Here’s Yo la Tengo’s version of “Magnet” (NRBQ’s version is not available on YouTube).

Alas, for the sake of his own campaign in the eyes of aging hipster rockers, Governor Good Hair is not that savvy in the music of bands with cult followings.

All jokes aside, I think Perry understands the realities of the immigration issue more than other candidates, but Romney bested him in the debate as a whole tonight.

Who knows what the polls will show? But I suspect that FOX News deliberately gave Romney a leg up tonight over Perry.

For instance, on the down the line, silly softball, Google question of who each candidate would pick as a running mate, only Romney was allowed a follow up.

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Articles by John Presnall

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