Via Mediaite, here’s the exchange of the night in lieu of a Quote of the Day. Perry’s answer is a transparent dodge, of course, and Santorum rightly calls him on it. The question isn’t whether children of illegals should be educated, it’s whether they should be subsidized by taxpayers with in-state tuition rates. Bad enough that Perry would be so lamely slippery on that point; doubly bad that he would turn defensive and sanctimonious to try to deflect the issue. This wasn’t the first time that he’s morally condemned his conservative critics on this subject either: Remember at the last debate when he lectured the audience about how Texas embraces its illegal students because, down there, “it doesn’t make any difference what the sound of your last name is”? The surest way to antagonize immigration hawks is to accuse them of nefarious motives yet he seems intent on doing so, again and again. That’s a fine strategy for appealing to Latinos in the general election and poisonous as a strategy for consolidating tea partiers in the primary, especially with Drudge now bannering these comments for the benefit of everyone who didn’t watch tonight. I don’t know what he’s thinking.
Verdict on the debate in three sentences: Santorum helped himself the most. Perry was terrible, to the point where Mark Hemingway at the Standard jokingly wondered whether he’d had a stroke during the second half. And it’s a disgrace that, in the course of two very long hours, not a single segment was devoted to the looming catastrophe in Europe and what our contenders plan to do to contain the damage from it if they’re elected. Pitiful.