Perry’s recent comments in New Hampshire about federal bureaucrats–that he would send them to “some really god-awful place” if he failed to implement his policies–may not seem like a big deal, but it does indicate something important: how far he has strayed off-message. Remember, this is a candidate whose campaign was built on the so-called “Texas economic miracle.” Why is he hectoring federal bureaucrats instead of talking about jobs? Why is he making a big deal about cutting congressional pay? In short, what is the message? One of the flaws in the Perry campaign is that he keeps trying on various personalities as if they were sweaters, trying to find one that fits (think Al Gore in the 2000 debates). Who could forget Perry’s earlier speech in New Hampshire–the one that left people wondering if he’d been drinking more than water–in which he was joking and changing his pitch from soft to loud and back again. One of the things you have to do when you run for president is to act presidential, but Perry’s version of acting presidential is to affect a menacing air, and an appearance on the Jay Leno show isn’t going to change that. It’s strange: Pery has shared the stage with Gingrich and Romney for debate after debate, but he has learned nothing from watching them. Romney is full of vigor and self-assurance; Gingrich is the voice of reason with a heavy dose of cynicism, and Perry is…what?
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