In a case of fairly strange bedfellows, CNN and the Tea Party Express put on a GOP debate at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Texas Governor Rick Perry is ahead in the polls, and the other candidates took every opportunity to criticize him for his statements about Social Security and his record in Texas. Only Newt Gingrich stayed above the fray as he continued his campaign to seem like the “nice” candidate who refuses to spar with other Republicans.
When called on his support of a law requiring prepubescent girls to be immunized against the human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer, Perry responded “I will always err on the side of human life – and since I may have unprotected sex with some of these girls in the near future, my life needs to be protected.” Michele Bachmann pointed-out that one of Perry’s aides was associated with a pharmaceutical company that made a profit from the legislation, but Perry had a ready response to the allegation of influence peddling: “That was part of my jobs plan – that’s how we create jobs by helping companies expand into new markets like prepubescent girls.”
The audience applauded Ron Paul when he said the economy would improve if we didn’t spend trillions of dollars on foreign wars. The crowd seemed to like the idea of saving money. But Paul drew derisive boos when he tried to make the case that terrorism is a result of arrogant American foreign policies instead of a rabid and unreasoning hatred of Americans because we’re so free, good, and pure, as Rick Santorum insisted.
Businessman Herman Cain said very little because moderator Wolf Blitzer didn’t ask him any questions. Blitzer tried to send some questions Cain’s way, but every time he did members of the Tea Party audience brandished nooses and buckets of hot tar.
After the debate a poll showed that most voters thought Rick Perry was a plastic department store dummy that can talk, while Mitt Romney drew the most votes for “inflatable life raft”. As usual Ron Paul took the prize for “most incoherent”, while The Guy From Utah and Rick Santorum tied for “who are those guys, anyway?”. Candidates Bachmann and Gingrich were in their usual tie for “most difficult to see behind the podium”.