Question: Did Rick Perry's support crash because he looked like a blithering idiot on national television or because the Tea Party couldn't handle his deviation form the mandatory talking points regarding immigration?
Answer: We are about to find out.
I just read Newt Gingrich's 10 steps to a legal nation (Hat Tip Right Wingnut) and I came to the conclusion that he might have a big political problem on his hand: I kind of agree with him.
Newt believes in a pathway to legalization (aka "amnesty"). He wants to create a "21st century visa program" as well as "in source the best brains in the world." His first point is to secure the border, of which he offers few details. I am not sure if he means that securing the border is supposed to take place before the rest of the points. If so, that would be an expensive and ineffective route. Still, I can't help to believe that his ambiguity is on purpose.
Yes, Newt's wording is off. Of course, he throws in a Nazi historical example and then goes on to say that Mexico is currently in a civil war (they are not). And of course he bashes the DREAM Act, even though he never addresses the real reason why conservatives don't like the DREAM Act -- in-state tuition. He says that "young non-citizens who came to the United States outside of the law should have the right to join the military and earn citizenship." I take that to mean that he doesn't really mind the DREAM Act then.
So we have a candidate who wants to reform the immigration system and grant legalization to illegal immigrants. He almost sounds like Ronald Reagan.
Which brings me to the social experiment.
Gingrich is Rick Perry but without the blithering idiot part. So is the non-Romney crowd more affected by bad debate performances or ideological impurity? If it is the latter, then we have a clear explanation for why the Tea Party wing can't produce a credible candidate. If it is the former, then I will be half-way impressed.
An ARG Iowa poll has Newt with 42% of the Tea Party vote. In second place is Ron Paul at 19%. What will happen to the Tea Party vote when Romney spends the next month talking up Newt's immigration plan?