Tales from the Trail

Santorum’s blinking problem

Insurgent Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum might have a blinking problem, according to an analysis by a research associate at the University of Minnesota.

Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist who writes the non-partisan Smart Politics blog, said that Santorum blinked at more than twice the rate of the rest of the Republican field during Saturday night’s ABC News presidential debate in Manchester.

’While research may not be settled regarding whether people who lie blink more often than those who tell the truth, potential voters are no doubt more at ease with a candidate who looks them straight in the eyes and does not pepper their speech with repetitive non-verbal tics,” Ostermeier wrote.

Smart Politics counted 2,284 on-camera blinks when candidates were speaking at the ABC debate, and Santorum accounted for 35 percent of them.

Santorum, who spoke for 12 minutes and 55 seconds in Saturday’s debate, blinked 793 times while delivering verbal remarks, or 61.4 times per minute — much higher than the average person’s rate of approximately 20-25 times per minute. The rest of the GOP field blinked 1,491 times, or just 27.8 times per minute of speech.

Highlights from the GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum

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Six of the Republican presidential candidates met at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, last night for a dinnertime “family discussion” at the Thanksgiving Family Forum. Gathered around a wooden table garnished with a centerpiece of artificial pumpkins, moderator Frank Luntz asked Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum about their views on social issues, morality, personal responsibility, and God. Neither of the two Mormon candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, were in attendance. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

1. Gingrich tells OWS: “Go get a job — right after you take a bath.”

Asked about the role of personal responsibility in society, Gingrich quoted John Smith (of Pocahontas fame): “In 1607 in the first English speaking permanent colony, [Smith said] to the aristocrats who had paid their way and didn’t want to work: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat.’”

The same principle, he said, should apply to Occupy Wall Street protesters, all of whom “start with a premise that we all owe them everything.”

Perry camp tries to spin “oops” moment into campaign gold

 

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s camp has found a new way to take advantage of his latest poor debate performance, while adding to his mailing list and, hopefully, donor rolls.

His website had a banner on Thursday morning reading, “What part of the Federal Government would you like to forget about the most? Click here to vote!” Nestled beside a fundraising appeal, the link let visitors to the site choose between 10 government departments and commissions — including the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and National Endowment “of” the Arts (it’s the National Endowment FOR the Arts). Voters gave their names, email addresses and zip codes to vote by submitting their answers to forgetmenot@rickperry.org.

The Republican presidential hopeful crashed during a debate in Michigan on Wednesday night when he stood on stage and struggled to remember the third of three U.S. government agencies he would close if elected next November.  Perry remembered that he wanted to shut down the Commerce and Education departments but could not remember the third — Energy — despite prompting from a moderator and some of his rivals.