Going into last night’s Republican debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry was expected to attack frontrunner Mitt Romney, for his encyclopedic history of flip-flopping and especially for that “RomneyCare” thing from his days as a health reformer in Massachusetts.
Mr. Perry has been falling in the polls. Combine the revelations that this White House got help from former Romney advisers on its health reform law with Governor Perry’s new, very loud attack ad likening Romney to President Obama, and you’d seem to have a moment for the Texan to do what Tim Pawlenty didn’t – namely, land the punch.
Not so fast. Challenged mildly by Mr. Perry, former Governor Romney defended his plan, saying that “I’m proud we took on a major problem in our state” – and he seemed to smell blood in the water:
…perhaps the most interesting and potentially damaging moment for Mr. Perry came when Mr. Romney managed to flip Mr. Perry’s criticisms back on him.
“You have a million kids uninsured in Texas,” Mr. Romney charged. “A million kids. Under President Bush, the percentage uninsured went down. Under your leadership, it’s gone up.”
To be fair, Mr. Romney may have been relying on dated data: per the nonprofit advocacy group Families USA, 1.4 million Texas children (slightly more than one out of five) were uninsured in 2008. However, it may be only (only?) 500,000 children in 2011, according to last week’s report about a new Texas Children’s Hospital study.
Texas Monthly reporter Paul Burka was incisive with his critique of Governor Perry’s debate performance, but the worst for Mr. Perry may actually have come after the event was over. NBC News embed Carrie Dann sets the scene:
The Texas governor was comparatively energetic at his [post-debate] stop at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on the Dartmouth College campus, taking questions on energy policy, Social Security, and states rights.
But he stumbled in his answer to a young woman’s question about states’ rights; Perry said that one of the “reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown.”
Only problem is…
The Revolutionary War was fought in the 18th century.
Up top, Mr. Romney’s official Massachusetts governor’s portrait. What’s in that little folder next to him, painted next to his leg for eternity? Per the AP, via Ben Smith of Politico: “That folder, the AP wrote at the time, is “a leather bill binder emblazoned with a medical seal, symbolizing the first-in-the-nation universal health care law he signed in April 2006.”