If Rick Perry Doesn't Deliver Tonight, His Campaign Is Over

Rick Perry

Photo: eschipul via flickr

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has had three chances to introduce himself to GOP voters — and each time he has failed to make a good impression.His campaign has stumbled on issues like Social Security and immigration, and has been forced to fend off accusations of racism.

Tonight, Perry will have an opportunity to begin to wipe the slate clean, with the Bloomberg-Washington Post debate in New Hampshire tailored to his strong-suit — the economy.

Red State co-founder Ben Domenech tweeted a few reasons why the debate should be a walk in the park for Perry:

  • For one thing, it’s Bloomberg. How many voters in Iowa, NH, SC, Florida get Bloomberg?
  • For two, it’s econ only. That’s an issue where Cain and Romney have released plans, not Perry yet. Assume it’ll mostly be about those.
  • For three, debate will presumably have no questions about Gardisil, in-state tuition, or racist rocks. Delayed til next one.
  • Point is, I think the CNN debate on Oct 18 is a bigger test for Perry. Mostly because people will actually see it.

We’d add:

  • Expectations could hardly be lower for Perry going into this debate, making it easy for him to be seen as the “winner.”
  • This debate is only about the economy — an issue Perry hoped to centre his campaign on, has a strong argument for, and one that will provide Perry with a steady crop of easy attack lines.
  • The debate is seated — meaning Perry’s back will be less of a factor. (Texas Republicans have speculated that back pain has been a factor in Perry’s poor debate showings, particularly in the second half.)
  • He’s no longer the front-runner, meaning the rest of the candidates will focus some more of their attacks on Romney. 

But just because it’s easy for Perry, doesn’t mean it won’t be a major moment for his campaign.

If Perry underwhelms tonight — certain to be the easiest of the debates ahead — there will be few signs he can ever bounce back.


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