Or is it Cosmo Kramer?
Rick Perry channels Sarah Palin: Wildly-grinning, energy lover hounded by debatecritics
When it comes to Rick Perry and debating, political pundits opined that a fourth strike could knock him out. So how did the Texas governor do in the Dartmouth economic roundtable Tuesday night?
We've tallied some of the best reaction and opinion from around the web.
New York Magazine:
The big question of tonight's Republican presidential debate was whether Rick Perry, cratering in the polls and facing a party Establishment starting to accept the inevitability of Mitt Romney, would survive. I think he did. He is a bad debater, but given the history of figures like George W. Bush, I see no evidence that Republican voters want a good debater. They just want someone who doesn't hopelessly stammer through every answer and accuse conservatives of heartlessness. Perry seemed to attain that level of competence."
Mr. Perry hardly seized the moment at the Washington Post/Bloomberg News debate to re-energize his flagging campaign. With the exception of one tough question for Mitt Romney on health care, he did not criticize his rivals. Nor did he make a grand case for his presidential ambitions.
Instead, he stuck to a few talking points, repeatedly mentioning energy independence as a sort of catchall answer to whatever was asked. ... Mr. Perry appears to be pursuing a strategy of getting through the debates with as little political damage as possible so he can survive into the next phase of the campaign."
The Christian Science Monitor:
On a night when Texas Gov. Rick Perry had the most to lose, Governor Perry might have lost the most. ... He looked like the candidate most likely to have left the iron on at home. By the end, pundits across the cable-TV landscape were wondering whether Perry had the fire to run for president, so muted and disengaged was his performance."
Rick Perry rode into this presidential race eight weeks ago looking like Ronald Reagan. Instead, he's turned into Cosmo Kramer. Awkward and often confused, he has become less of a participant in the Republican debates than a comic sidekick doing walk-ons, shouting about how we're "sittin' on a treasure-trove of energy!" and then grinning for applause."
There’s just no getting around it: Rick Perry’s inept performances are dominating these debates. The highlight, or perhaps the lowlight, of tonight’s Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire was a direct question to Perry about health care, in which he managed to avoid taking a single shot at Mitt Romney. But throughout the debate, he went back and forth between garbling his answers and simply disappearing for large stretches. He showed up for a debate on the economy with nothing to say on the economy other than that his economic plan wasn’t ready yet, and apparently he decided to avoid his difficulty in delivering prepared zingers by not bothering to even try any. Just incredible."
Had I been advising Mr. Perry before the debate, I would have told him that he didn’t need to hit any home runs — a solid and steady performance might suffice to reassure Republicans given the low expectations brought on by his erratic showings in past debates. Then he could adopt a more ambitious strategy at next week’s debate in Nevada. ... Even with the low-risk strategy, however, Mr. Perry whiffed on a softball question about Mr. Romney’s health care bill. And at other points, like on a question about Ronald Reagan’s approach toward taxes, his demeanor crossed the line from subdued to soporific, with meandering answers that recalled Sarah Palin’s struggles in media interviews throughout 2008."
While Perry is certainly down, he's not out--at least not quite yet. After the debate ended, Perry showed off his skills as a retail politician at a small event with Dartmouth students. At the Beta fraternity house, Perry enthusiastically gave his stump speech. He warned about the debt hanging over their generation and perfectly recited his line about making D.C. as inconsequential to their lives as possible."
The governor, who came across as unfocused and sometimes confused in earlier appearances, clearly had done more homework and preparation for the Dartmouth debate. He offered more context and policy substance, at one point noting that former President Ronald Reagan had complained in his diaries about the lack of spending cuts that he had expected Congress would pass to help pay for deficit reduction. But he may have over-corrected by sounding somewhat rehearsed and, as Henson put it, 'stilted.'"
The difference between Romney and Perry was the difference between the guy who sits at the front of the class and raises his hand with the answer to every question and the guy in the back who came in late and hopes just to slouch through without anyone noticing him."