The Republican presidential campaign has offered many memorable moments this year, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here’s a top 10 list from Politico
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was fighting to rebound from a series of poor debate performances and intemperate remarks on the campaign trail when he entered the Nov. 9 debate. Things were about to get much worse. At one point in the debate, Perry said he wanted to eliminate three federal agencies. He was able to name two of them – Commerce and Education. But he couldn’t come up with the third – Energy. For almost a minute, Perry racked his brain to summon No. 3, but to no avail, uttering “oops.” That pretty much sums up his campaign, which has never recovered from the blow.
2. Herman Cain wins Presidency 5
The retired businessman’s burst to the top of the field began with his Sept. 24 victory in the Florida Presidency 5 Straw Poll. Cain upset Perry in the contest, which historically has predicted the Republican nominee. Perry spent big on the event, but it didn’t matter. Cain had made multiple appearances in the state and established himself as a conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney.
3. The Sharon Bialek news conference
A month and a half after Cain rocketed to the top, he began crashing to the bottom, done in by allegations of sexual harassment. In a Nov. 8 press conference, single mother Sharon Bialek made a graphic accusation that Cain expected sex in return for helping her find a job. Bialek was the first of Cain’s accusers to disclose her identity, and her comments were the most lurid. That was the beginning of the end for Cain, who suspended his campaign Dec. 3.
4. Chris Christie says ‘no’
For seemingly the whole campaign, conservatives have been looking for an alternative to Romney. New Jersey Gov. Christie was seen by many top Republicans as the best choice. But in an Oct. 4 press conference, the rising star declined, mentioning that he was flattered by the support he received from former first lady Nancy Reagan and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Christie was the last hope for an anti-Romney candidate, and at that point the party came to accept the fact that the candidate field was set.
In the Oct. 18 debate, Perry ripped into Romney for having once hired illegal immigrants to work on his Massachusetts mansion. An agitated Romney attempted to reply, but Perry kept interrupting. Romney tried to inform him of the debate’s rules – “I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 seconds to respond” – and then turned to CNN moderator Anderson Cooper for assistance. “Right?” Romney said. “Anderson?” It made Romney look like a school boy in need of a teacher’s help. It also showed vulnerability that the other candidates sought to exploit.
7. The Newt-iny
Newt Gingrich’s campaign didn’t exactly take off in the first half of the year. There were stories about a big line of credit at Tiffany and a vacation to Greece. Then came the big whopper June 9, when 16 staff members said adios. The quitters included top strategists Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, and long-time Gingrich aide Rick Tyler. The big complaint was that Gingrich was ceding too much authority to his wife, Callista. The defectors said he wasn’t interested in putting in the hard yards for an effective campaign. Gingrich says the criticism of his wife was unjustified and that he’s better off without Carney and Johnson. He seems to be having the last laugh.
7. Jon Huntsman’s out-of-the-gate flop
The former Utah governor was hyped as the moderate alternative to Romney. But his campaign stalled from the get-go. Huntsman tried to evoke legendary former President Ronald Reagan in his June 21 campaign debut at New Jersey’s Liberty State Park. But it didn’t turn out so well. His first name was misspelled on media credentials provided by his campaign. The Statue of Liberty was at a poor angle for TV cameras. There wasn’t much of a crowd, and to top it off, Huntsman was hard to hear. The campaign hasn’t made much progress since.
8. Rick Perry’s launch on Ames Straw Poll day
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann thought she had scored a real coup when she won the Iowa Straw Poll Aug. 13. But that was the day Perry announced his candidacy, and it’s been all downhill for her ever since. As for Perry, he started off with a bang, dominating media coverage and rising to the top of the polls. But his debate and campaign performances have since sent him reeling. Now, Perry stands as a very dark horse.
9. Mitt Romney’s Bret Baier interview
The “Anderson” incident wasn’t Romney’s only TV problem. A Nov. 29 interview with Bret Baier of Fox News didn’t go so well either. Romney was complaining, combative and ornery throughout the interview with Baier, who has the reputation of a tough but fair questioner.
Baier certainly wasn’t unduly rough in this sit-down, asking about Romney’s healthcare plan for example. But the former Massachusetts governor didn’t take it well. “This is an unusual interview,” he said. Baier later told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that Romney complained after the interview that it was unfair. Again Romney came off looking childish and vulnerable.
You may not even remember that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was briefly a candidate. He scored some political points in a June interview before the first candidate debate, equating Romney’s healthcare plan with that of President Barack Obama by creating the term “Obamneycare.” That was the strongest criticism any of the Republican candidates had yet offered against him. But Pawlenty wasn’t able to back it up on the big stage, failing to go after Romney on healthcare when the issue came up during the debate. That marked the beginning of the end for Pawlenty, who exited the race after the Iowa Straw Poll and later endorsed Romney.
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