Bloomberg: Republicans give Rick Perry frontrunner status … even as warning signs flash over his ability to win support in the general election.
Perry is the preferred choice of 26 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in a Bloomberg National Poll …. Mitt Romney places second at 22 percent, while all of the other Republican candidates get less than 10 percent. (Jon Huntsman is on one percent).
…. Perry trails President Barack Obama among the poll’s entire sample, 49 percent to 40 percent, about twice the deficit for Romney. He also confronts negative reactions from Americans disinclined to vote for a candidate expressing the skepticism he has about the viability of Social Security, evolution science and whether humans contribute to climate change.
Forty-five percent of Americans say they’d be less inclined to support a candidate who says science isn’t settled on whether human activity contributes to global warming, while 25 percent said it would make them more likely to back that candidate. Half said they would be turned off by a candidate who says evolution remains an unproven theory, with 20 percent saying they’d be more inclined to support someone who holds that view.
….. Palin is viewed negatively by 66 percent of Americans in the poll, while Gingrich is disliked by 55 percent.
AP: When Mitt Romney and Rick Perry thumped their chests over their job-creation records as governor during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, they left the bad parts out.
Yes, employment has grown by more than 1 million since Perry took office in Texas. But a lot of those jobs are not well paid.
True, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent when Romney was Massachusetts governor. But the state’s employment growth was among the nation’s worst.
A look at some of the claims in the debate, and how they compare with the facts:
PERRY: “Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that we’ve created have been above minimum wage.”
THE FACTS: To support the claim, the Perry campaign provided federal statistics for December 2010 showing only 5.3 percent of all jobs in Texas pay the minimum wage.
But those figures represent all workers, not just the new jobs, for which data in unavailable. And that does not account for low-wage jobs that may be above the minimum wage. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, 51 percent of all Texas workers make less than $33,000 a year. Only 30 percent make more than $50,000 a year. Nationally, Texas ranked 34th in median household income from 2007 to 2009.
About 9.5 percent of Texas hourly workers, excluding those who are paid salaries, earn the minimum wage or less, tying Mississippi for the highest percentage in the nation.
ROMNEY: “At the end of four years, we had our unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent. That’s a record I think the president would like to see. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire country.”
THE FACTS: To be sure, 4.7 percent unemployment would be a welcome figure nationally. But Romney started from a much better position than President Barack Obama did. Unemployment was only 5.6 percent when Romney took office in 2003, meaning it came down by less than 1 percentage point when he left office in 2007. Obama inherited a national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
Texas Observer: …. “And here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know, it’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some gas in it,” said Mr. Perry (to nine-year-old Sam Beane). “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools…. I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right. Thank you.”
Just the day before, Perry tackled climate change (again): “I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”
For anyone who’s paid attention to Perry’s career in Texas, these counterfactual remarks aren’t surprising in the least. For years, Perry has been saying things that would earn him a ‘D’ in any college (or high school) science class. He wears his anti-intellectualism on his sleeve like a boutonnière.
And it’s more than just words. Perry has packed key agencies, such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, with yes men who hold views far outside the scientific mainstream on climate change, toxicology, and environmental regulation….
But, perhaps more interesting, is that Perry doesn’t appear to know Texas’ official policy on the teaching of evolution in public schools …. it is plainly unconstitutional to teach creationism in public schools. The courts have been consistent on this question. Most recently, in 2005′s Kitzmiller v. Dover, a federal judge ruled that intelligent design can’t be taught in public schools because it’s tantamount to religion, not science, and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
…. Regardless of what the official curriculum is, there are teachers in Texas who do teach creationism. I know, because I had a teacher that did so in my Central Texas high school. She proudly displayed a bumper sticker on her podium that read something like, “Big Bang Theory: God Said ‘Bang’ and There it Was.” Her students picked up on her creationist catch-phrases – “Can’t make a chain out of missing links” – and took pity on us in the AP biology class, where evolution was taught as the cornerstone of biology.
Maybe this is what Rick Perry meant when he said “we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” Creationism *is* taught occasionally; it’s just that it’s not supposed to be…..
ThinkProgress: New GOP presidential contender Gov. Rick Perry continues to get a free pass from the press for his stimulus hypocrisy on the campaign trail. Last week the governor claimed that the Recovery Act signed by President Obama had “failed” — conveniently forgetting that he accepted more stimulus money than any other state besides California, and used the funds to close 97 percent of Texas’ massive budget deficit.
The Houston Chronicle reported that as of July 2010, federal stimulus funds created or saved 47,700 jobs in the Lone Star State. Yet today during a question-and-answer session in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Perry once again feigned ignorance of the indispensable benefits his state received from stimulus money. In fact, he claimed that the stimulus “didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell”…
… So far, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money to keep schools open, ensure Medicaid coverage for children, and put more people to work on infrastructure projects … Texans would have been much harder hit by the recession if the Recovery Act hadn’t been there to cushion the blow.
Robert Shrum: Rick Perry entered the Republican primaries with Texas-size swagger and prairie-shaking thunder from the right. After just a few days of pyrotechnics, Karl Rove, minister of the dark arts for the last Texas president, reproved Perry as “un-presidential.”
…. The Perry appeal is intense, but limited. He has no coherent economic plan; rather he boasts about his record as a job creator in Texas. It turns out that between 2007 and 2010, the state lost 178,000 private sector jobs; the new jobs came in the public sector, 125,000 of them — fueled by the federal stimulus he denounced as he raked the money in.
His partisans claim an advantage for him as the only Southerner in the race, but his brand won’t appeal in the changing South, in places like Virginia and North Carolina, where a PPP poll shows him running 8 points behind Obama. And then there’s Florida, where Perry’s radical notion that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional — and states should be able to opt out — would make him radically unacceptable to senior citizens. He could also pose as a Westerner. But in Colorado, which withstood the GOP tide of 2010 by choosing both a Democratic senator and a Democratic governor, Perry loses to Obama by 13 points.
Perry, who’s previously spoken of Texas seceding from the Union and who’s proposed repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments – the income tax and the popular election of senators — could have general election trouble even in marginally red states. While people may feel the country is on the wrong track, they won’t rally to someone who will take America completely off the rails. So Rove’s right: Perry’s wrong for the GOP.
This leads establishment Republicans to gravitate grudgingly toward Romney, who’s now the former front-runner because he has employed the classic and historically failed approach of just trying to hold on to a lead. He’s “tortoise-like,” one of his aids rationalized to Politico. A strategist who has worked with Romney added that for him to prevail, “Perry needs to make some mistakes.” That’s a recipe for spending tens of millions of dollars on a run-up to a withdrawal speech.
… Right now in a painful economic time, the kind that has always stirred paranoia in America, Rick Perry is an updated replay of Huey Long in the 1930s, a William Jennings Bryan in reverse. In Bryan’s words, it is Perry who would “press-down upon the brow of labor [a] crown of thorns.” The Texan may exploit the flame of anger to win the primaries, only to see himself and his party consumed in November.
For Rove, who already sees that reality, I offer only half a defense; in 2012, Republicans may reap the whirlwind of what he’s sowed in the past decade…
Jacob Weisberg (Slate): At a press conference last week, someone asked Chris Christie for his views on evolution vs. creationism. “That’s none of your business,” the New Jersey governor barked in response.
This minor incident, which barely rated as news for a few political blogs, offers a glimpse of Christie’s personality, which seems increasingly grumpy and snappish. But it says even more about the current state of the national Republican Party, where magical thinking trumps rationality, and even to acknowledge basic realities about the world we live in runs the risk of damaging one’s political future.
Christie is not part of the natural constituency for Darwin-denial. He’s an intelligent man, a lawyer, a fiscal rather than a social conservative. But Christie is also someone who might want to run for president someday, or be selected as someone’s running mate. For those purposes, he must constantly ask himself the question: Am I about to say something to which a white, evangelical, socially conservative, gun-owning, Obama-despising, pro-Tea Party, GOP primary voter in rural South Carolina might object? By this standard, simple acceptance of the theory of evolution becomes a risky stance. To lie or to duck? Christie chose the option of ducking while signaling his annoyance at being put in this ridiculous predicament.
….Even after the release of Obama’s birth certificate, nearly one-quarter of Republicans still refuse to believe that the president was born in the United States. Conspiracy thinking is flourishing on the right like no time since the McCarthy era. The GOP rank and file is in desperate need of a cold shower, a slap in the face, a wake-up call. But instead of telling the base to get a grip on reality, the party’s leaders are chasing after the delusional mob. To get to the front of the line in 2012, Republican candidates must pretend to believe a lot of nonsense than isn’t so. Or do they actually believe it?