The bloom is off the rose when it comes to the Tea Party movement’s view of presidential candidate Rick Perry. In a weak showing during CNN’s Tea Party sponsored debate, Governor Perry seemed unprepared for many of the questions posed by members of Tea Party groups from across the nation.
The Texas Governor was deliberate when answering questions in the debate, but he seemed confused and ill prepared at times. When attacked for mandating HPV vaccines for adolescent school children. Perry admitted he should have approached it differently but he wasn’t very forceful in debunking the mandate charge. There was an “opt-out” option so in reality, the Governor wasn’t forcing anyone to do anything. Perry seemed unable or unwilling to drive home that point.
The Appearance of Cronyism
Michele Bachmann noted that Governor Perry’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for Merck, the drug company behind Gardasil, the same company who donated $30,000 dollars to Perry’s campaign. The optics look bad for Perry and he didn’t help matters when he responded by saying the had only taken $5000 from Merck and was offended that anyone would think he could be bought for $5k. Of course, that raises the question; How much could he have been bought for?
Although the Tea Party movement tends to agree with Rick Perry’s position on Social Security and other entitlement programs, the Governor’s position on illegal immigration raised a few eyebrows. Perry supports “in state” tuition for illegal immigrants and opposes a border fence. His position is much like his predecessor as the Texas governor, G.W. Bush, who as President, lost support from the GOP base pushing his 2004 “Guest Worker” plan, which many saw as thinly disguised illegal alien amnesty plan. Perry’s similar positions leave many in the Tea Party movement wondering if Perry is just another George W. Bush, when it comes to illegal immigration.
Health Care Mandate
In another misstep, Perry seemed Ok with the notion that a state has the right to force its citizens to purchase a service or product. Romney believes this as well and uses it as justification for Romney Care, the Massachusets law which forces its citizens to purchase government mandated and approved Heath Insurance. Michele Bachmann, once again, rose to the occasion on this issue and stated emphatically that she opposes these kinds of government mandates, on both the state and federal level. Rick Perry needs to get on the right side of this issue if he expects to garner wide support in the Tea Party Movement.
Bachmann Hangs Tough
Governor Rick Perry had three big strikes against him the CNN Tea Party debate. He also had a home run or two. However, members of the Tea Party is just getting to know where Perry stands on the issues. Backmann proved that she has staying power, no matter how much the mainstream press dismisses her candidacy. Her message still resonates most loudly with the Tea Party movement and make no mistake about it, the Tea Party will decide the GOP primary winner, one way or another.
Splitting The Tea Party Vote
The GOP establishment would like nothing more than to split the Tea party vote between Perry and Bachmann, assuring Mitt Romney the candidacy. This is a real possibility and would most likely mean another 4 years of Obama. The vast majority of the Tea Party movement will not support Mitt Romney but perhaps the GOP elite is counting on independents to give Romney the victory. One would have thought that the GOP establishment had learned their lesson with a progressive neocon candidate like John McCain, but apparently not. We live in interesting political times, indeed.