Rick Perry’s attack on Mitt Romney for allegedly hiring illegal aliens was pretty weak – nothing new, just stale oppo research published by the Boston Globe years ago. Romney already adequately responded to it way back in ’07. But while the thin substance of Perry’s attack will fade, the image of Romney losing his cool on stage might not.
Before last night, Romney seemed to float above his competitors during debates, never getting his hands dirty. And the favor was often returned – for whatever reason, the other candidates rarely went after Romney hard.
But that changed when Romney got angry – and even a bit nasty – after Perry challenged him on stage last night at the GOP debate in Las Vegas. As Allahpundit writes at HotAir: “The unflappable nice guy in the field is both flappable and, when pushed far enough, not so nice.”
Perry’s attack also pushed Romney into making this potentially problematic statement, which Josh Marshall highlighted at TPM last night:
“So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for pete’s sake, we can’t have illegals. Turns out that once again they hired someone who had falsified their documents and therefore we fired them.”
A skilled debater would have challenged Romney on that comment right on stage. Perry is about as far from a skilled debater as you can get, but he does have other other tools at his disposal: tons of money to burn and 23-year-old video prodigy Lucas Baiano on staff. Perry may have missed his opportunity last night, but that quote from Romney is an attack ad writer’s dream.