Judging from several pundits on the right, Rick Perry’s candidacy for president is all but finished. Perry’s latest gaffe during Wednesday’s Republican debate, in front of millions of potential voters, may be the proverbial last straw. Summarized by two New York Times reporters: “For any other candidate, the moment may have been quickly forgotten or easily explained. But for Mr. Perry, whose candidacy has been consistently undercut by his debate performances, the seriousness of the moment was not a question, only how deep and enduring the damage would be. It reinforced negative stereotypes about his candidacy, a point that was made clear after the debate when he made a rare trip into an adjoining room to face reporters and try to brush away what had happened.”
But least anyone think that criticism of the Perry campaign is solely a game being played by “progressives” consider the following critiques of Perry’s performance by Republican strategists and commentators:
Mark McKinnon, an aide to former President George W. Bush, describing the moment as the “human equivalent of shuttle Challenger.”
Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist: “I think the biggest question now is whether or not he can raise any more real money…A donor strike will totally cripple what’s left of his campaign.”
Sara Taylor Fagen, Republican strategist: “It was a political death knell. There’s just no recovering from a moment like that when you’ve had such a bad record of debates.”
Steve Schmidt, Republican Strategist who oversaw the reelection “war room” during George W. Bush’s campaign for a second term and who then went on to advise John McCain, speaking of Perry’s performance: “After a series of ruinous debates, this on top of it ends it for him… Since he [Perry] got into the race, he’s not been ready, he’s not ready to be Commander in Chief…Republican primary voters aren’t going to put Perry in front of Barack Obama in a debate.” Schmidt went on to say that Perry’s debate performance will be a videotape highlight for the next thirty years when the topic of poor debate performance is discussed.
Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics labeled Perry’s debate performance as “the worst mistake ever made in a presidential debate.”
At this point in time and with all of the undercurrents swirling around and within the Republican presidential contest there is little reason, short of a miracle, to believe that Rick Perry will be able to pump enough water to keep his hopes from sinking altogether. But there are victims beyond Rick Perry as well, those on the far right who have been hoping beyond hope for a viable anti-Romney to emerge. At this point in time there can only be the utmost desperation within the ranks of the Tea Party movement and others on the radical right when they consider that the may be faced with having to choose between two political progressives for president next November, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. While we all know that the radical right has as its expressed goal, the defeat of Barack Obama, voting for Romney will, in reality, do nothing to further their cause. One only need to recall the Massachusetts Senate race of 2010 when Scott Brown gladly accepted the support of the Bay State’s various Tea Party groups only to part company with them shortly after he took office. His voting record on major issues is hardly in line with the ideology advocated by the Tea Party movement.
So after seeing Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry rise only to quickly fall, and a Palin candidacy fail to materialize, what options are left to the radical right for 2012? Well there’s the perennial Ron Paul who can’t pierce the threshold of single digit favorability and then there’s the recycled Newt Gingrich. Gingrich’s poll numbers have been on the rise of late but how long will he be viable once the voters become reacquainted with his scandalous past and record of serial matrimony? Can Gingrich past muster with the Evangelical element on the far right? I seriously doubt it. Likewise if the allegations of sexual impropriety currently afflicting Herman Cain can not be dealt with effectively by Cain, the Evangelical’s won’t flock to support him either. Thus for the far right the dead end of their hopes for putting one of their own in the White House may be coming clearly into view. That will constitute a major setback for a movement that just a year ago thought it was on the threshold of fundamentally altering the structure and function of American government.
Steven J. Gulitti
“Oops” at Debate When Perry Can’t Get to Three;
Perry takes a lengthy pause during debate; http://hardballblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/10/8741648-perry-takes-a-lengthy-pause-during-debate