Last night, the remaining Republican presidential candidates met at Drake University in Des Moines for a debate that lasted almost two hours. What they said doesn’t matter, however, as the only thing people will remember is the moment when Mitt Romney asked Rick Perry if he wanted to bet “ten thousand bucks” on whether or not his book had been edited to change passages regarding health care. Video above.
In an ideal world, presidential debates would be that rare window when campaign posturing stops and the candidates have an open platform to discuss important matters (e.g. anything but themselves or each other). As anyone who has ever watched Tru TV can attest, we do not live in an ideal world. Because of this, debates are largely forgotten and inconsequential unless somebody screws up, says something extremely cutting, or gives birth on stage.
The entire context of Romney’s “ten thousand bucks” comment has already been forgotten. As Politico’s Maggie Haberman says, “The details of what the two were fighting about almost don’t matter.” Exactly, who wants to hear about whether or not Romney supports a nationwide individual mandate for health insurance (other than sick uninsured people, of course)? What matters is that Romney’s opponents can now add a sound bite to their $50,000 campaign ads that paint him as an out-of-touch rich guy.
Jon Huntsman, who was not at the debate, swiftly bought the URL “10KBet.com.” The site features a clip from the debate spliced with other footage of Romney saying he is in favor of a national mandate. The site has been featured in plenty of reports covering Romney’s bet, earning Huntsman, whose poll numbers were too low to participate in the debate, an incredible amount of press.
When one candidate makes a “gaffe” (which may be the most overused and moronic term tied to debates), it takes the focus off of the others. Who cares if Newt Gingrich, as Politico says, suggested all Palestinians “are terrorists?” Mitt made a phony bet!
Republican debate: 7 takeaways [POLITICO]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 11, 2011