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Baker Analyzes Tea Party Debate for National Review

Sep 13, 2011

National Review, the premier conservative journal, asked Hunter Baker, Associate Professor of Political Science, to analyze the Tea Party Republican Debate on CNN last night. His comments, below, were included with other conservatives such as Mona Charen, nationally syndicated columnist, Hadley Arkes of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine, among others.  For full coverage, click here.

HUNTER BAKER
Hopes were high for Rick Perry going into his first debate. By almost any measure, he underperformed. John Harris staggered him with a question about climate change.

The word on Perry is that he learns. He proved the scouting report is true. The governor performed dramatically better this time around. At almost every point he was more comfortable, had a sense of humor, and seemed less brittle. His only real error was extending the discussion about his decision to require HPV vaccinations in Texas. He started out right by simply admitting a mistake, but he couldn’t stop explaining himself. It was a self-inflicted minor wound.

Bachmann gamely dogged Perry’s steps, trying to take back the position she had before he entered the race. She had some success but undercut herself by adamantly insisting that no state government can constitutionally require citizens to purchase insurance, a point which is clearly incorrect.

Huntsman regressed. His attempts at humor were awkward and flat. He found a nice theme about domestic nation building, but it was too late to make much noise.

It’s a little tough to watch Mitt Romney. His front-runner status was short-lived. He clearly needed Perry to stumble so he could pounce, but that moment didn’t arrive. If Perry continues to warm to the task, a former one-term Massachusetts governor probably can’t beat him.