...and we're off! Perry's introduction to the country goes well, with him defending and promoting his record on jobs in Texas capably.
Romney's hair looks bad; too much product. He crushes a question about his private equity background, though, and then unleashes a killer line on Perry's accusation that he didn't create many jobs, comparing Perry's claim that he created jobs in Texas to Al Gore's claim that he invented the internet. Perry fires back with the line that Dukakis created more jobs as MA governor than Romney, and Romney comes right back over the top by noting that Bush had a better record on jobs than Perry. Great back and forth between these two, and both are clearly well prepared and ready to go. When Huntsman tries to get in on the act by touting his own record as governor of Utah, it's not as impressive, even though he definitely has a case based on the facts.
Brian Williams of NBC asks Ron Paul questions challenging his libertarian worldview, not really related to any of the campaign issues. While this may be advantageous for Paul, as it gives him a chance to explicate his political philosophy, I hope it's not a precedent for the rest of the debates. Paul's perspective is something that the other, more mainstream candidates should have to address.
When prompted to attack Romneycare, Perry doesn't hesitate, unlike the man no longer on the stage (Pawlenty). Perry's efforts criticizing Romney and defending the high uninsurance rate in Texas are underwhelming, though. Regardless of who's right, Romney has a better command of the facts. Huntsman steps in with a possible model for replacing Obamacare, something we hear all too infrequently.
Bachmann steps in with an explanation of the need to repeal Obamacare in 2012. She finds a way to make her case a little more appealing and urgent. Gingrich subsequently outdoes her, however, bringing down the house by refusing to criticizing other Republicans and then arguing that anyone on the stage would repeal the health care bill and be justified in doing so.
Brian Williams asks Santorum kind of a "gotcha" question about Catholic social teaching and conservative approaches to welfare. Santorum hits it out of the park, concluding that Republicans did welfare reform in the '90s "not to save money, but to save lives." A good answer to a lame question.
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