Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The takeaways from Saturday night’s Republican debate in Iowa: Newt Gingrich won’t easily be knocked from the top, Gov. Rick Perry isn’t a betting man, and Mitt Romney is willing to spend $10,000 on proving a point.
During the high-spirited debate at Drake University, which saw most candidates taking aim at either Romney or Gingrich, Gov. Perry accused Romney of changing his position on health care between editions of his book, according to The New York Times. Romney’s response?
“Rick, I’ll tell you what,” Romney said during the exchange, reaching out his hand. “Ten thousand bucks? Ten thousand dollar bet?”
“I’m not in the betting business,” Perry responded.
Democrats pounced on the moment, an apparent aberration from Romney’s careful strategy of downplaying his own wealth and speaking often of his defense of the middle class.
Liberal politics site Talking Points Memo reports that during and directly after the debate, DNC critics of Romney hastened to point out that the figure Romney was willing to bet in order to prove a point was more than that average in-state tuition at a public university. On Twitter, a hashtag was born: #What10kbuys.
“DNC officials, starting with press secretary Melanie Roussell, began tweeting a #What10kbuys hashtag to amplify their message, with items like a year of daycare for the average family. Within less than a half hour of the debate’s end, it was one of the top trending topics not just in Iowa, or in the United States, but around the world, according to Twitter.”
Among the tweets still piling up online:
“#What10kbuys A good portion of my student loans… I’m welcome to contributions @MittRomney” -@TDOE
“What10kbuys the whole cast of jersey shore. Lolol” -@jazzythemermaid
“Mitt’s 10k bet could pay for the Payroll Tax Cut for 10 middle income families #what10kbuys” -@DCCC
Romney’s campaign team responded by sticking by the comment, saying that the moment in the debate made Perry look weak for not taking the bet. But with Newt Gingrich leading polls and an addition to the list of moments where Romney has seemed to stand more often with big corporations than regular people, the former Massachusets governor may be in some hot water according to another kind of betting.
"I checked the share prices for the seven major Republican contenders at 8:59 p.m. on Saturday, just before the debate began. Those prices represent estimates of the likelihood that the candidates will win their party’s nomination. At that point, Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the nomination were attributed to be 47.2 percent. They had declined to 44.4 percent, however, as of 12:27 a.m. on Sunday. Meanwhile, the share price for Newt Gingrich, who had a strong evening, rose significantly."