Final GOP Presidential Debate: Rick Perry Mocked by Media for Tim Tebow Comparison

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In the last debate before the Iowa caucuses formally kick off the 2012 presidential race, the Texas governor says, "I am ready to be the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses."

The seven remaining Republican candidates gathered for a final televised debate in Sioux City, Iowa, three weeks before the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses formally kick off the 2012 presidential race. 

The debate was co-sponsored by the Iowa Republican Party and Fox News, with the channel’s anchors Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Neil Cavuto and Megyn Kelly acting as moderators.

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With his recent surge in the polls, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich attracted the most attention from other candidates, with Michele Bachmann raising the large consulting fees he received from Freddie Mac and Rick Santorum making an oblique reference to the thrice-married Gingrich’s personal life.

Gingrich parried those attacks and addressed charges by chief rival Mitt Romney that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president. “I sometimes get accused of using language that is too strong. So I’ve been standing here editing,” Gingrich said. Taking a jibe at a recent Romney comment in a New York Times interview calling him “zany,” Gingrich added, “I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany.”

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But the highlight of the evening, at least as far as the media was concerned, came when Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared himself to Denver Broncos star quarterback Tim Tebow. “There are a lot of folks out there who said Tim Tebow isn't going to be a good NFL quarterback. Am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I am ready to be the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses."

Perry’s comparison caught the attention of CNN host Piers Morgan, who tweeted, “I think Rick 'Tebow' Perry just debated himself back into contention #iowa.”

But many in the media made fun of Perry for comparing himself to the quarterback, who has posted a 7-1 record as a starter over the last two months.

CNN contributor Roland Martin joked on Twitter, “Uh, oh! Rick Perry is likening himself to Tim Tebow. 'I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.' Start praying, bruh!”

While The New York Times writer Don Van Natta Jr. tweeted, “Tim Tebow is now praying that he never becomes the Rick Perry of the NFL.”

Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post tweeted, "Rick Perry gets the prize for being first to mention Tim Tebow. The only thing he didn't do was do a Tebow."

In another tweet, Roll Call's Ryan Beckwith used a football reference to make fun of the Texas governor. "Rick Perry namechecks Tim Tebow. If he wins a debate against Obama, will he drop on one knee?"

The New York Times Five-Thirty-Eight blogger Nate Silver joked in a tweet that the comparison represented a whole new direction for the Perry campaign: "New Rick Perry campaign slogan: Faith, Jobs and Tebow."

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza tweeted: "And my head just exploded. #iowadebate" after Perry made the Tebow comparison.

Comedian Andy Borowitz focused on Gingrich instead of Perry, tweeting: “Gingrich: "I believe that wife begins at insemination." #iowadebate.”

Other celebrities who tweeted about the debate used the opportunity to make jokes about the entire Republican party. George Lopez tweeted, “Watching the Republican Presidential Debate is like eves dropping at STARBUCKS ! #FTP's.” 

But it was actress Ellen Barkin who fired the zinger of the evening, tweeting: “Love it when Fox News moderates a debate. They must be sorry L'il Adolf isn't running.”