Meantime, despite all his faults, Mitt Romney seems to be getting stronger and stronger at the podium. He may wind up getting the nomination by default. That being said, all along we've felt that the "best candidate" is the one that can stand up on that national stage next fall and effectively and clearly communicate with the broader "Dancing with the Stars" electorate. For better or worse, running for high office is a performance business. Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection puts it well:
On appearances, Perry came across once again as ill-prepared, stumbling, and uncomfortable.I cringe at the thought of the Rick Perry from last night’s debate on stage in October 2012 against Obama with the whole country watching. I hope there is another Rick Perry out there, because last night’s Rick Perry would not stand a chance on stage against our smooth-talking, fact-misstating Presidentt.After watching the debate participants (along with admittedly a lot of channel surfing), the best candidate would seem to be a combination of New Gingrich's debating skills, Rick Perry's military background, Mitt Romney's business experience (and excluding the horrid RomneyCare implemented while he was Massachusetts Governor), Herman Cain's inspirational solutions-oriented message, the non-wacky parts of Ron Paul's libertarian philosophy, and Michelle Bachmann's charisma. Even John Huntsman came across far better than Perry.
Note to GOP candidates: Please look into the camera. Your true audience is the viewer/voter at home; the media questioner in the venue is irrelevant. For some reason, Democrats get the memo about looking directly into the camera but Republicans traditionally seem utterly clueless as to who they really are trying to convince.
Update: In response to Perry's disdain for the smoothest debater, Prof. Jacobson offers some further cogent comments:
That’s true but only to a point. We don’t need the smoothest debater, but we do need someone with the minimum required debating smoothness.
Like it or not, in September and October 2012 there are going to be debates which will be watched by an enormous percentage of the electorate, and the mainstream media will be unforgiving of mistakes by the Republican nominee. A miserable performance, on par with the one Perry had Thursday night, would be a disaster.
By contrast, strong debate performances against Obama, holding Obama accountable in front of tens of millions of people, exposing his failures for what they are, could seal the deal. The mainstream media will not perform that task for us, so our nominee needs to do it. Perry has not shown so far that he is capable of that; it’s not smoothness, its preparation and execution.