Papers and pundits reacted to last night’s Republican debate by giving Mitt Romney gushing reviews and placing Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Presidential aspirations on life support.
According to Politico’s Johnathan Martin Mr. Romney “outclassed the opposition” and “none of the other GOP contenders laid a glove on him.” Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker wrote in the New York Times that Mr. Romney “dominated the evening” with “a fresh air of confidence in his candidacy” and “a robust defense of the health care plan he signed as governor of Massachusetts.” Washington Post scribes Philip Rucker and Amy Gardner called Mr. Romney ”comfortable and confident” writing that the debate “solidified his frontrunner status.” Jennifer Rubin gave Mr. Romney ‘s performance an even more enthusiastic assessment on the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blog describing him as “smooth as silk” and scoring the evening “not even close.”
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin was one of the few talking heads who wasn’t wowed by Mr. Romney.
“Ugh. Main takeaway: He defended TARP … and refused to say he would oppose the next massive bailout to come along when another manufactured crisis hits. More of the same old big biz/big government corporatism,” Malkin wrote.
Ms. Malkin isn’t smitten with Mr. Romney, but she had much harsher words for each of his rivals and described the debate as a win for President Obama and a loss for “taxpayers.”
While Mr. Romney earned raves, Governor Perry got an almost universal thumbs down from media observers. This was Governor Perry’s fourth straight debate dud and the consensus seems to be that his campaign is almost as good as dead in the water.
The Hill’s Cameron Joseph thought Governor Perry “faded into the background.”
“With the other candidates no longer seeing him as a major threat, Perry was largely held out of the limelight — and could remain there if he can’t find another way to change his campaign’s narrative,” Joseph wrote.
On liberal blog Talking Points Memo, Benjy Sarlin and Evan Mcmorris-Santoro described Governor Perry’s answers as “confusing jumbles.”
“This was not the debate that proved Perry can debate; it was the debate that proved he still can’t,” they wrote.
Ms. Malkin called Governor Perry “languid,” “half-hearted” and “listless.”
“Rick Perry once again failed to deliver,” she wrote.
Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann also caught the eye of critics.
Politico’s Juana Summers wrote that Mr. Cain “calmly weathered every jab” from his opponents while Mr. Joseph noted that Mr. Cain “largely held his own.” Mr. Martin described the night as the return of “the Michele Bachmann conservatives fell in love with during the campaign’s early debates.” Ms. Malkin wrote that it seemed as if Mr. Cain and Ms. Bachmann were “angling for a VP slot.”
With this debate debacle, Governor Perry looks set to join fellow candidates Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul on the sidelines. Perhaps it’s time for the Texan to ride off into the sunset.