As Joanna has observed, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman emerged as the voices of reason in last night’s debate: Romney in defending Social Security against Rick Perry’s claim that it is a “Ponzi scheme,” and Huntsman in defending the science on global warming ane evolution, and in (wow, praising some baseline stuff here) describing undocumented immigrants as “human beings.”
Perry, of course, was playing to the tea partiers by not backing down on his insistence that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (see this handy graphic for the crucial distinctions between the criminal enterprise of a Ponzi scheme and the government program). Back in the day, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (before he was Senator) said Social Security was a Ponzi scheme, too. Apparently that doesn’t thwart a general election win in Kentucky.
There weren’t any religion questions to speak of (short Rick Santorum’s insistence, in response to a question from Brian Williams, that his Catholic faith informed his push for the 1996 welfare reform act, because he hates poverty), and few religiously-inflected answers. Perhaps the candidates are saving all that for the Thanksgiving Family Forum sponsored by the FAMiLY Leader. But Perry’s response on climate change — he insists the science doesn’t support the conclusion that human activity causes it — was clearly aimed at a religious audience. More on that in my next post.
UPDATE: I neglected to mention in the original post that I had some interesting reactions via my Twitter feed to the audience’s applause for Perry’s comments on the death penalty and the number of executions in Texas under his watch. The conservative (and Christian) admiration for that eye for an eye stuff is not universal.