Mitt Romney Destroyed Perry in Monday's Debate
It wasn't exactly Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, but Mitt Romney took Rick Perry out behind the woodshed Monday night.
Romney hit Perry hard on Social Security, particularly on Perry's claim that Social Security is a scam, a fraud, and a Ponzi scheme. Perry has said before that he wants to replace the program with a private system or a state-based program. Romney wants to tweak Social Security, saving the program at a federal level.
Romney wasn't the only one who took shots at Perry. Michele Bachmann, languishing in the polls after the emergence of Perry, took and landed a few haymakers herself. She berated Perry for his crony capitalism, arguing that Perry essentially steered government money to his campaign supporters.
Biggest among these charges was the revelation that Perry took campaign money in exchange for his bill to force HPV vaccines on all Texas teenage girls.
"To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have to have a government injection through the force of an executive order is flat-out wrong. That should never be done. That's a violation of the liberty interest," Bachmann said. "Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan, they don't get a do-over. The parents don't get a do-over."
The drug company Merck gave Perry $5,000, and Perry signed the executive order mandating use of their vaccine. The $5,000, Perry argued, was a small portion of the $30 million he had raised for his campaign. “If you're suggesting I can be bought for 5,000, I'm offended,” he scoffed.
"I'm offended for all the little girls and parents that didn't have a choice," Bachmann replied.
What's ironic is the program is one of the few things that Perry did that might endear him to so-called soccer mom voters. While the bill could be spun as an infringement of personal liberty, advocates point out that the vaccine prevent girls from getting cervical cancer by preventing them from contracting the strains of HPV that lead to cancer.
The whole debate brings up the question: just how much would it take to bribe Rick Perry? $10,000? $100,000? It's not like the HPV vaccine bill is the only example of Rick Perry benefiting his campaign contributors and friends with government money. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal uncovered one case where Perry took $75,000 in campaign contributions from a friend, and then steered millions in state money to that friend's business venture.
According to the Journal, Among the companies that the Emerging Technology Fund has invested in is Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. It received a $4.5 million grant last year—the second largest grant in the history of the fund. The founder and executive chairman of Convergen is David G. Nance.
In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor's office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry's campaigns between 2001 and 2006.
The regional panel that reviewed Convergen's application turned down the company's $4.5 million request when it presented its proposal on Oct. 7, 2009. But Mr. Nance appealed that decision directly to a statewide advisory committee (of which Mr. Nance was once a member) appointed by Mr. Perry. Just eight days later, on Oct. 15, a subcommittee unanimously recommended approval by the full statewide committee. On Oct. 29, the full advisory committee unanimously recommended the approval of Convergen's application. When asked why the advisory committee felt comfortable recommending Convergen's grant, Lucy Nashed, a spokesperson for Mr. Perry, said that the committee “thoroughly vetted the company.”
Rick Perry also takes his own chunk of taxpayer dollars. After asking Texas state departments to take a 5% budget cut, Perry has been living the high life not in his taxpayer-paid Governor's residence, but in a second home, also courtesy of the Texas taxpayers. In the past two years, he has spent $600,000 in public money to live in a sprawling rental home in the hills above the capital. The state of Texas spends more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms.
So much for limited government and cutting spending. He makes Marie Antoinette look like a coupon-clipper.
Other than the extravagant spending and scandalous government spending by Perry, Republican insiders are concerned that Perry just isn't very bright. Some Republican strategists concede that Perry is overmatched in just about any battle of wits.
Long-time GOP strategist Mike Murphy wrote on Twitter: "Listening to Perry try to a put a complicated policy sentence together is like watching a chimp play with a locked suitcase."
All of this is good news for Mitt Romney, who could needs to hit hard on these themes if he is going to overcome Perry's advantage in the polls.
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