Tea Party de­bate fall­out for GOP

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The Sept. 12 de­bate in Tampa proved one thing: The fight for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent is a two-man matchup. For most of the evening, the spot­light was on Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, and the post-de­bate commentary has cen­tered on which one of those two came out bet­ter. While the Texan is still the front-run­ner, the Florida show­down ended in a draw, and Mr. Perry was on the re­ceiv­ing end of some painful body blows.

The most se­ri­ous punch was thrown by Min­nesota Rep. Michele Bach­mann, who af­ter win­ning the Iowa straw poll a month ago has seen her Tea Party-based sup­port de­fect to the Lone Star gov­er­nor. The Tea Party spon­sored the lat­est de­bate, and Mrs. Bach­mann played to the au­di­ence, ac­cus­ing Mr. Perry of fa­vor­ing big­gov­ern­ment so­lu­tions that in­trude on pri­vate life, par­tic­u­larly in re­gards to some forced vac­ci­na­tions against sex­u­ally-trans­mit­ted dis­ease for school­girls that he im­ple­mented through ex­ec­u­tive or­der. The Min­nesota con­gress­woman didn’t merely take an ide­o­log­i­cal swipe but charged Mr. Perry with crony­ism by say­ing the vac­ci­na­tion pol­icy was im­ple­mented be­cause a former top Perry staffer was the lob­by­ist in charge of the ac­count. In the days ahead, look for more can­di­dates to shoot ar­rows at the front-run­ner for pur­port­edly be­ing too close to busi­nesses and in­ter­est groups.

The com­pe­ti­tion also jumped on Mr. Perry by claim­ing he re­ally can’t take credit for the grow­ing Texas econ­omy be­cause he is blessed with a rock-solid con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­ture that does the heavy lift­ing to draft good bills and all he has to do is sign them into law. “If you’re dealt four aces, that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make you a great poker player,” Mr. Rom­ney quipped. This is only partly true. Sure, the state has a re­spon­si­ble House and Se­nate with ma­jori­ties that are pro-growth on eco­nomics and in gen­eral try to hold back the bu­reau­cratic le­viathan. That doesn’t mean the chief ex­ec­u­tive doesn’t de­serve a nice pat on the back for not screw­ing up what’s go­ing right. When govern­ment doesn’t med­dle, Amer­ica has the most pro­duc­tive econ­omy in the world. For the most part, Mr. Perry is com­mit­ted to keep­ing the state out of the way, and there’s some­thing to be said for sim­ply not mess­ing with a good thing. We could use such re­straint in Washington.

The most knock-’em-down­drag-’em-out fight of the Tea Party event was over So­cial Se­cu­rity. Mr. Rom­ney went af­ter Mr. Perry for re­fer­ring to the fed­eral re­tire­ment sys­tem as a “Ponzi scheme” in his 2010

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