Politics is a dirty game that is typically reserved to those willing to get dirty, spin a few truths and ignore facts that do not suit their cause – being elected. True to form, Tuesday night, conservatives were treated to yet another political debate. The CNN Western debate held in Las Vegas, Nevada was filled with much of the same answers we’ve already heard and quickly became a Chubby Checkers’ “Let’s do the Twist” meets Holyfield vs. Tyson prize fight. As was expected, both Romney and Perry took to “fist-to-cuffs” on the immigration issue. Most pundits have claimed that Romney won the debate with a TKO; however, as time marches on, the charges made by Perry, Santorum, and Newt might result in a kidney shot that will require medical attention for Romney and taints the polished look and perfect hair of the former Massachusetts Governor with a brand new shiner to compete with the illumination of his pearl drop smile.
Tuesday also proved that Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are unwilling to go quietly into the night, roll over, play dead, or even be willing to accept the notion that the “establishment” has chosen Romney as the GOP nominee without the consent or approval of conservative voters. Not that this applied equally across the panel, as admittedly, I hardly noticed that Huntsman was not in attendance.
Perry vigorously blew and stoked on old embers to reignite the 2008 GOP nominee process wherein it was disclosed that Romney knowingly kept illegal immigrants employed for a year. Perry refused to allow Romney to scrub this from the annals of time as he had done with other statements he had made in the past.
Romney laughed off any attempts to taint the “establishment” pick for the GOP and belittled Perry with condescending tones and posturing. Yet, I wonder if that was a nervous laugh and an attempt to buy himself time to come up with an answer to assert himself as being a strong supporter of anti-illegal immigration so the issue could be laid to rest.
Romney told Perry that he didn’t know from where he was getting his facts. Perry retorted by saying, “I’ll tell you what the facts are” – and thus, the bell rings in Round 3. As the sparring continued back and forth, jab here, uppercut there, Romney called in referee Anderson to force both fighters into neutral corners. The heated exchange continued and proved to be much of what is expected from both Romney and Perry.
Requesting that Anderson step in, reminded me of a petulant child-asking mommy to make the bad man go away. However, calling in Anderson does not make the accusation “go away” any more than sticking your fingers in your ears makes the questions go away or closing your eyes makes you disappear.
Romney took several hard swings at Perry for interrupting his answers; however, he elected to merely dodge other members of the panel who confronted him; such as Rick Santorum’s shots regarding Romney’s unmistakable “flip-flop” on every issue held near and dear to conservative values and Newt Gingrich’s assertion that Romney clarify statements he made toward him regarding the insurance mandate for health care.
In between sparring sessions, Romney advised Perry “If you want to be President, you need to learn to listen and let others speak without interrupting them”. If that is now the new ground rules, shouldn’t the same rule apply to everyone? Based on my personal observations, each and every one of the panelists has been guilty of interrupting one another – Romney included. So, I can’t help but to believe that Romney’s position on this matter only applies to those he dislikes or fears.
As he did in the 2008 campaign, Romney responded to the hiring allegation that he was not in the habit of asking subcontractors for proof of citizenship of their employees. On this issue, Romney is absolutely right. It is inconceivable to have a private individual demand proper documentation of people employed by a third party to do a job – in this case, cleaning out tennis courts. How can any reasonable individual expect others to act as ICE agents when hiring contractors? That would have been the end of the issue and could have put Perry back in check. That is however until he followed the statement with “I told him [contractor], I’m running for office…” HOLD ON; HOLD THE PHONE; BACK UP. SAY WHAT? Did he just imply that the only reason it was an issue was because of the optics while he was running for office? It is only “wrong” to hire illegal immigrants when someone is running for public office? I’m confused. Does that mean it’s okay for me to hire undocumented workers because I am in the private sector and not running for office? Equally, since Romney kept them employed for over a year, would that mean he is also in favor of sanctuary cities – at least in the short-term?
Since “optics” appears to be the issue, would this be a good time to point out that Meg Whitman and Romney are close friends and may suffer from the same affliction? Perhaps, Romney needs to explain his own “Nicky Diaz” of lawn care service to the public. I think this is exactly what Santorum was talking about when he pointed out Romney’s unmistakable ability to flip-flop on issues more than a fish out of water struggling for his last breath.
Romney attempted to deflect the hiring allegation by declaring that illegal immigration is caused by “magnets” and claiming that “Texas’ in-state tuition” is a magnet that draws people here. WHAT? In all my years of watching political debates, I believe we have reached a new low on political rhetoric. I am absolutely astounded that Romney is actually claiming that millions of people are making a mad dash to the border, often risking life and limb to illegally cross into the U.S., just to receive the lower, in-state tuition rates in Texas! Please spare us all any suggestion that we change the phrase “undocumented workers” to “undocumented students! Or worse, “day-workers” to “day-students”!
As a resident of Texas living on the border, I can assure you that if there was any validity to Romney’s outrageous claims, the University of Texas would have more campuses than you could shake a stick at. Campuses would pop up like local corner convenient stores in every Texas municipality. It would also mean that the U.S. would have the most educated illegal aliens in the world.
Romney did bring up Perry’s past support of Gore and that Perry was once a Democrat. I guess he was unaware of Bachmann’s past support of Carter. While on point, it may be pertinent to note that Reagan was a Democrat at one time as well. Like Reagan, both Perry and Bachmann have proven their conservative positions in recent years. On the other hand, Romney is still attempting to prove himself on conservative issues that are the staples of the Republican base. While Romney, Perry, and Bachmann may have been Democrats once upon a time, the more important questions to the conservative base today are: 1) Are you still a Democrat in your positions today; and 2) Can we count on you to be consistent in your conservative positions tomorrow?