In one of the most memorable moments from Saturday night's GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Mitt Romney, who has an estimated net worth of $200 million, offered Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) a $10,000 bet. After Perry essentially claimed that Romney was trying to cover up his past support for health care mandates, Romney challenged his rival to put some money where his mouth is. "Rick, I'll tell you what," Romney said, extending his hand. "Ten thousand bucks? Ten thousand dollar bet?" Perry declined: "I'm not in the betting business." Twitter immediately lit up with jokes about what $10,000 could buy for non-millionaires, and commentators incredulously pointed out that Iowa's per capita income is about $38,000. Before the debate was even over, Jon Huntsman's campaign had bought the domain 10kbet.com, and Democrats and other GOP rivals were quick to pounce, too. How badly will this off-the-cuff wager hurt Romney?
Romney probably just killed his campaign: Casually offering a $10,000 bet is more than just a "huge unforced error" for Romney, says Mark McKinnon at The Daily Beast. It reminds people of Mitt's greatest vulnerability, that he seems "rich, elite, and out of touch." Like John Kerry's infamous 2004 flub about the Iraq War — "I actually voted for [war funding], before I voted against it" — this has all the hallmarks of "a campaign killer."
"Newt won and Romney bombed with a bet"
Give me a break. This shouldn't be an issue: The worst you can say about Romney's bet is that Mormons aren't supposed to gamble, says Ann Althouse at her blog. Otherwise, I don't see the problem. The typical rhetorical amount for sure-thing bets is a million dollars, so "if anything, the problem with $10,000 was that it's not enough to make the point." And as for Romney reminding us that he's rich, don't we want a successful person as president?
"'A $10,000 bet between Romney and Perry tops chatter at GOP debate.'"
Well, Romney' stock is dropping — literally: The political bettors at the gambling website Intrade think this will hurt Romney, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. Romney's share price, which reflects gamblers' confidence that he'll win the GOP nod, dropped right after the debate, while Newt Gingrich's rose. And really, who thinks that Romney's $10,000 gaffe will help win over middle-class voters? His best bet now may be to "blame the news media" for harping on this minor moment in an otherwise "fairly strong and substantive debate."
"After $10,000 offer, some bet against Romney"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How a drafting error could doom Obama's carbon regulations
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
- Sex can't explain the culture war
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- This simple hack for slicing cherry tomatoes will astound you
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
Subscribe to the Week