Oh, he's here?
Only Farouk and a love of each other's wife can bring Rick Perry and Bill Whitetogether
It takes two to tango, but apparently all it takes is a political forum at the Arab-American Cultural and Community Center to facilitate the closest Texas may get to a verifiable gubernatorial debate.
At Monday evening's forum in southwest Houston, Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston mayor Bill White sparred separately in back-to-back presentations to an audience of approximately 200 people. The duo were introduced by Farouk Shami, the Houston hair care magnate who lost to White in the Democratic primary in March.
Perry stands firm on his deadline for White to release all tax returns from his years in public service. Until White releases the documents, Perry will not debate the former Houston mayor, which could make this 2010 election the first Texas gubernatorial campaign in 20 years to lack a debate.
In the address at the Arab-American Cultural and Community Center, Perry reiterated his four principles of sound government: Fiscal responsibility, fair tax and regulatory policies, a legal system that disallows excessive lawsuits, and appropriate funding for accountable public schools.
"I'm more what's right for Texas," the Tea Party darling told the crowd.
Once his separate turn came, White countered with criticism of the multibillion-dollar state budget shortfall, poor high school graduation rates and rapidly rising college tuition.
Perry avoided discussing plans by the State Board of Education to vote this week on a resolution calling on textbook publishers to diminish what they print about Islam in world history books, but White argued that the board "should spend more time trying to get technology in the classrooms and not taking politics in our classroom."
When each was asked to name his opponent's most admirable qualities, both Perry and White could only come up with that their opponent married well.
An Oct. 19 debate proposed by five newspapers and an Austin television station is set to still take place, regardless of whom appears.