I did not watch the last GOP candidate debate that took place last week in Florida, but read recaps and the transcript in part. My impression was that Romney had solidified himself as the most electable Republican in the field, that Huntsman had made progress, and that Perry had done so poorly that his standing as the GOP frontrunner (and the presumptive nominee) had faded badly. I also came away thinking that Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, Cain, and Bachmann had failed utterly to vault themselves out of second-tier territory. But I was wrong, at least about Herman Cain.
The former Godfather's Pizza executive easily won a straw poll in Orlando Saturday, capturing 37% of the roughly 2,600 votes. Perry came in a distant second with 15%, while Romney came in third at 14%. Bachmann, who won the Ames, Iowa straw poll just a few weeks ago, could barely make it above 1%.
That Republican voters in Florida have chosen Herman Cain, who benefited greatly from Perry's poor debate performance by being the backup choice, speaks volumes about the cauldron of crazy that the party has become. This bunch of wing-nuts have no idea how to articulate a message to the nation about how they want to lead. Other than canned platitudes about tax cuts for "job creators" (which were proven ineffective, thanks to George W Bush) and a bunch of scary warnings about social issues, the best they can come up with is to boo a gay soldier, cheer about 234 Texas executions, and proclaim that a 30-year-old uninsured man should be left to die if he's too stupid to buy health insurance. And if you think the talk of Obama being a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, a Nazi, a Jew hater, or just an uppity black man has largely disappeared, just you wait. We haven't even seen Sarah Palin enter the race (and she will, just before Iowa).
This is going to be the ugliest campaign of my adult life.