ORLANDO, Fla. -- Eric Kleefeld scours the Internet for evidence of conservative pundits trashing Rick Perry's debate performance. Bill Kristol: No surprise. Erick Erickson: Something of a surprise. But what else could they do? Look again at his attempt at an early hit:
Speaking of books and talking about being able to have things in your books, back and forth, your economic adviser talked about Romneycare and how that was an absolute bust. And it was exactly what Obamacare was all about.
As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said it was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out. So, speaking of not getting it straight in your book sir, that would be a --
This inspired the first of Romney's two exasperated, unafraid "nice try" comebacks.
Rich Lowry was nice and blunt:
Does Rick Perry prepare for the debates? He clearly does, he just can’t quite carry it off. His signature moment of the night came when he teed up what was supposed to be a devastating indictment of Mitt Romney’s flip-flops and get lost somewhere in the middle and barely made it out the other side.
Among Republicans in Florida, I'm hearing less criticism of the tone, and more genuine anger at the way Perry framed the choice on immigration.
If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society.
This has torqued off many, many activists, from what I can gather from talking to people today. Even FreedomWorks's Brendan Steinhauser was annoyed with the framing of the issue, and FreedomWorks, insofar as it ever touches on immigration, has the basic position of its chairman Dick Armey: to the left of Perry's!
Then again, Ryan Lizza reminds us that we've been here before.