Perry’s behavior reminded me of his debate with Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina, back in 2010: He made it clear that he didn’t want to be there. He had no energy, no spark, and virtually no presence. His distaste for the process of debating was obvious. He recycled his conservative boilerplate about states being the laboratories of innovation; his answer to what Texas has done about health care was tort reform. Most of the time he just punted when he could have jumped into the conversation. Yawn. I thought Perry would come out swinging; instead, he was passive. I continue to wonder whether his health is contributing to his lack of energy. This performance could cost him dearly, because he did nothing to energize his dwindling number of followers, and anyone who had planned to contribute to his campaign would have to think twice about his viability. He didn’t look or act like a contender. He passed up several opportunities to say something relevant. The only thing he could say about creating jobs was to refer to the energy industry in Texas. Where does Perry go from here? One is tempted to say, “home.” This was unquestionably the worst day of the campaign for Perry. Not only did he stumble, but the shadow candidate everyone wants to see in the race, Chris Christie, endorsed Romney and found time to take a swipe at Perry. From Politico’s Alexander Burns: Chris Christie told reporters in New Hampshire that the Rick Perry campaign showed itself to be “beneath the office of president of the United States” by associating with a Texas pastor who criticized Mitt Romney’s religion. Christie’s remarks came during a Hanover press conference where the New Jersey governor announced his endorsement of Romney. “These type of religious matters have nothing to do with the quality of somebody’s ability to lead,” Christie said. “Any campaign that associates itself with that type of conduct is beneath the office of president of the United States.” Romney handled himself very well in the debate. He is a strong, forceful speaker, and when he talks about the economy, he sounds like someone who knows something about it. Perry did not dare engage him. Perhaps it is time to begin to take Cain seriously. One does get tired of hearing about 9-9-9, but the man has a certain charm and plenty of savvy, and one could see him as a potential vice-presidential candidate, one who would drive Obama crazy. I’m sure Carney isn’t going to give up, but it is hard to see where Perry can go. What is his constituency? He has alienated the old folks with his position on social security. He has alienated the tea party with his position on immigration. He still has the evangelicals and the social conservatives, but that isn’t enough to win the nomination. This speculation hardly matters because he hasn’t done anything that suggests he is capable of winning the nomination. He is running third in just about every poll. Perry has enough money to last until Iowa. I guess Carney’s strategy has to be to hope Perry finishes second in Iowa, on the strength of the evangelical vote, and then he goes to New Hampshire, and … uh, not so good. He’s at 6% in NH in the NBC/Marist poll. I don’t see a happy ending here. What is Perry’s political future? He can come back to Texas and finish out his term as governor, but I don’t think he can put Humpty Dumpty together again. He has embarrassed the state. No more gravy train for his pals. His ability to lead the state is finished. The Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund will not survive the 2013 session.
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Weekly dispatches from the middle of the road of Texas politics.
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