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The Florida Republican PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: What we learned – The Washington Post

September 13, 2011

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, businessman Herman Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, applaud before a Republican presidential debate Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) (Mike Carlson – AP)

The Florida Republican presidential debate: What we learned

Posted by Chris Cillizza at 12:27 PM ET, 09/13/2011

Since the Florida Republican presidential debate ended 12 hours ago, we’ve been reflecting on lessons learned from the night. (Man that looks WAY nerdier now that we see it written down.)

Our take on what we should take from the Tampa CNN/Tea Party Express debate is after the jump.

* Rick Perry is a work in progress: It’s easy to forget when you see him at the top of every poll in the race that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is VERY new at being a national candidate. He reminded everyone of that last night when he was caught badly off guard on questions about his executive order on an HPV vaccine. He tried to clean up the mess with a line about $5,000 not being enough to bribe him. Um, not good. (Democratic outside groups have almost certainly already put that quote into a TV ad to be deployed if Perry is the nominee.) Perry’s stumbles last night are far from fatal and, lucky for him, he has three more debates between now and mid-October to get better. But, make no mistake: he needs to. Get better, that is.

* Michele Bachmann isn’t dead yet: It took a month for the Minnesota Congresswoman to re-find — is that a word? — the voice that fueled her rapid ascent to the top (or close to it) of the Republican field. But find it she did last night, hammering Perry on HPV — a line of attack she is keeping up today. Bachmann still has a problem on her hands as evidenced by the precipitous drop-off in her poll numbers over the past month but she seems to have found an effective line of argument to suggest that Perry isn’t truly the conservative he claims to be. The question now is whether Bachmann can take back some of the support that Perry grabbed from her over the past month.

via The Florida Republican presidential debate: What we learned – The Washington Post.

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