Perry vs. rivals in Republican debate
There were eight candidates in the first big Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season.
Two of them dominated the stage from the start in a contest over who has created more jobs.
And the winner is….. Mitt Romney, according to his campaign.
“Mitt Romney won tonight’s debate because he demonstrated that he is the only candidate in the race who can return the country to economic prosperity. Career politicians got us into the mess and it will take someone with experience in the real economy to get us out,” the campaign’s communication director Gail Gitcho said in a statement released after Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
While the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign claimed victory, Rick Perry was the man in the spotlight.
All eyes were on the Texas governor as he made his debut on the national stage — and when it was over Perry said in a post-debate statement he was pleased to have been able to introduce his “conservative philosophy and pro-jobs record to the American people.”
Perry’s campaign said it was a “strong performance.” The new front-runner in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Perry came out swinging, writes Reuters’ Steve Holland.
A confident Perry fended off Romney, the rival he bumped out of the front-runner position when he entered the race a few weeks ago. The governor also fought off friendly jabs from others on the stage, including fellow Texan Ron Paul.
“I kind of feel like the pinata here at the party,” Perry said at one point during the debate.
Darrell West, director of Governance Studies at Brookings Institution says Perry’s performance proved he has electoral legs.
“Ever since he entered the race last month, and jumped to a double-digit lead, the big question was how he would perform in a major television debate. Would he demonstrate substantive knowledge and would he present himself in a way that would appeal to voters?. Perry demonstrated knowledge of leading issues, a sense of humor, and an ability to draw a contrast with opponents,” West said in commentary on the debate.
“Perry clearly understands how to resonate with conservative voters,” West added. “What the debate didn’t answer was whether he can broaden that appeal to centrist and Independent voters in a general election.”
Photo Credits: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (Republican presidential candidates at debate in Simi Valley, Calif.)