Sorry I haven't been around. I'm trying to keep my Republican horserace thoughts off this blog, but the race has been monopolizing my thoughts on politics. I don't think that is health and am working on it.
1. I think there is less distance between Ken and I than this post
might indicate. I agree that the debates exposed Perry's weaknesses along several dimensions. Perry wasn't conversant on national issues. He couldn't make a coherent case against Romneycare after he was challenged on his scripted two minute answer. Perry also couldn't effectively defend his past statements on Social Security. Perry went into the race without a good understanding of how the dynamics of public opinion in the national Republican Party were different from those in the Texas Republican Party. This wasn't simply a left/right "Texas is more conservative" thing. It took him too long to figure out that, on illegal immigration, the national Republican electorate was more restrictionist and less accommodationist (on matters like in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students) than the electorate Perry was used to winning over. Perry was just devastated by his early debate performances and never caught up in talking fluently about national issues. He mostly seemed to resort to identity politics gestures (comparing himself to Tim Tebow, and asserting that he would be on the gun range at 10:30 PM on a Saturday night - it really happened during one of the debates.) The debates did expose Perry's weaknesses and it was good thing. If you can't make the case against Romneycare to a Republican electorate, how are you going to make the case against Obamacare to the general public?
The case of Santorum and the debates is a little tougher. He was too whiny and hostile during the early debates and it hurt him. It was one of the reasons why there was a Cain boom before there was a Santorum boom. He looked like he belonged in the last couple of Iowa debates. He is the only Republican candidate who has drawn blood with his attacks on Romneycare. He is the only candidate who has manged to make a real argument for moving toward a more consumer and patient-centered health care system and how Romneycare moves us farther away from that goal. But then he was swamped by the coverage of Gingrich's tiffs with the moderators. Still, Santorum is the best thing that has come out of the debates. My biggest worry about Santorum is that not one of the Republicans I most respect (Mitch Daniels, Bob McDonnell, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush) have endorsed him. Still, in a constrained choice, I prefer Santorum to the rest of this crew. But...
3. Run Mitch Run
4. I get the sense that running for President is becoming a fulltime job earlier. I was a kid at the time, but I think I remember Democratic presidential candidate forums held in calender year 1987. Still, it seems like most candidates running for President are spending more of their time visiting the early states, debating and giving campaign speeches a full eighteen months before the election as compared to 1988, 1992, and 1996. If true, this would seem to be a major advantage to candidates who had no real job or had a job that could be easily neglected (like Senator.) Then again, Carter in 1976, Reagan in 1980, and Mondale in 1984 were basically unemployed guys who had been professionally running for President for years (even though they were unannounced for much of the time.)