As regular readers know, I’m supporting Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) for President. He’s smart, and he’s experienced, and he has led the state with the best economic and job creation record in the nation. He’s an economic conservative who can appeal to the TEA Party faction, and a social conservative who can appeal to the religious right.
Now, Governor Perry isn’t perfect, but, then again, no one is. I disagree with Governor Perry on a couple of issues — capital punishment would be the most obvious example — but there isn’t a candidate in the race with whom I would agree 100%, on every issue.
When he got into the race, Governor Perry was immediately anointed as the conservative alternative to former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), and he drew a lot of money, fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the Governor’s early debate performances weren’t exactly sterling ones, and he started to drop in the Republican polls.
But it seems that Mr Perry has picked it up a notch on the debate circuit. From The Washington Post:
Posted by Chris Cillizza at 11:17 AM ET, 10/19/2011
In an attempt to stave off debate withdrawal — there won’t be another one until, gasp, November 9 — we spent the morning sifting through last night’s rock ‘em, sock ‘em affair in Las Vegas in search of lessons learned.
* Mitt and Rick, not BFF: Before last night’s debate, most of the skirmishing between the former Massachusetts governor and the Texas governor was at the staff level. No longer. Perry repeatedly got into Romney’s face and Romney repeatedly took umbrage.
Perry’s attack on Romney employing illegal immigrant lawn service workers was decidedly personal and aggressive, and, for the first time in these debates, Romney got visibly angry. The extended “let me finish, no let me talk” exchange over immigration rapidly escalated to the point where it was very uncomfortable (and yet strangely alluring) to watch.
The ill will between the men seems to set the stage for a very nasty next few months as the two best-funded candidates in the race (not to mention their super PACs) will soon take to the television airwaves to continue the argument begun last night.
* Perry — not dead yet : Perry’s performance was somewhat uneven — he was terrific in the earlier part of the debate and less so as it wore on — but overall it was by far his best showing. Perry actually seemed like he wanted to be there; he was energetic and feisty.
We’ve written before that Republican primary voters want to nominate a fighter, someone they believe can take the fight to President Obama on all fronts. Last night, Perry was that guy.
Much more at the link.
Debates are really no way to measure a presidential contender. We expect our President to take thoughtful decisions, with all of the information and advice he could ever want immediately available to him, usually in a calm and somewhat drawn out manner; debates put a premium on having memorized a lot of information at the level you could use in a debate setting, and take decisions immediately, without any help from advisors, hopefully in a way that zings your opponent(s), and do it all without breaking a sweat. Debates are really the antithesis of Presidential decision-taking, but that really doesn’t matter: they have gained cachet as a good way for the public to measure the candidates, and that seems very unlikely to change. If he expects to win, Governor Perry will have to become a good debater.
So, I’m pretty pleased to see that he was able to improve on his previous performances. But there’s even better news concerning Governor Perry, at least as far as I am concerned:
By Karen Tumulty, Published: October 19
LAS VEGAS—The day after a combative debate performance that Rick Perry hopes will put new energy into his lethargic presidential campaign, the Texas governor offered up the outline of something else that has been missing thus far: a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the economy.
In an arm-waving speech before the Western Republican Leadership Conference here, Perry previewed the broad outline of a plan that he said he will present in six days. Among its features, he promised, will be spending cuts, entitlement reform, and a flat tax.
“I want to make the tax code so simple that even Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time,” Perry said, a reference to the embarrassment that complicated the Obama treasury secretary’s confirmation in 2009.
In his appearance before about 200 GOP activists in a showroom at the Venetian hotel and casino, Perry kept most of his criticism trained on President Obama, whose “Keynesian politics will hopefully never, ever be tried again,” he said. “We can’t grow the bureaucracy in order to grow the economy.”
Regular readers already know that I have supported a flat tax proposal, in an article that was so well-reasoned and well-written it didn’t draw any criticism at all. That’s a rarity on CSPT! I don’t know the details of the proposal Governor Perry will make — there have been several flat tax proposals made over the past two decades, and they all had some differences — so I can’t comment on any of the particular aspects of it, but the basic idea is right. The plan is to be made public next week.
Governor Perry is the opponent the Democrats fear the most. He’s not as scintillating a speaker as Herman Cain, and he’s not as smooth as Mitt Romney, but he’s the Republican candidate who not only has the best record of success as a Governor, but who will also bring the conservative base out to vote far better than the more moderate Mr Romney, which will help the GOP immensely down the ticket.