Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst for Fox News certainly seems to feel that way given Gov. Rick Perry’s performance at the past 3 GOP debates:
Analyzing the results of Saturday’s Florida Straw Poll on “Fox News Sunday,” Fox News senior political contributor Brit Hume said businessman Herman Cain’s victory may not mean very much, and that Perry’s poor showings recently may indicate his campaign is on the verge of “total collapse.”
“Perry really did throw up all over himself in the debate at a time when he needed to raise his game,” Hume said.
“He did worse, it seems to me, than he had done in previous debates. Romney was as strong as he has been lately. He has clearly raised his game in reaction to the emergence of Perry. It’s been good for Romney in a way that one might not have predicted … Perry is about one-half a step away from almost total collapse as a candidate.”
When Perry showed up for his first national debate, he could be forgiven for not understanding the performance standards. It is a whole different level than what a governor goes through when running for office. But then you expect a better performance in the second debate incorporating the experience of the first and the lessons learned. However, the 2nd debate actually seemed to be a worse performance. And the third worst of all.
Perry’s entry into the race made him the instant front-runner. But his three performances in nationally televised debates has seen that position erode significantly.
Hume goes on:
“I don’t think we’re being too harsh on Rick Perry,” Hume said. “He still has some opportunity to recover his balance and put in a strong performance. What was so strikingly troubling about — from a Republican point of view — about this performance was that Perry was thought of as a really true conservative. Now it appears he has got this position on immigration which is anathema to a lot of conservatives.
“So this really hurts him with the base. You can’t, you know — look at all the trouble Romney’s had. He’s got some trouble with the base. That’s what’s holding him back. Now Perry has got the same trouble so his weakness is very real indeed.”
His “you don’t have a heart” comment concerning in-state tuition for the children of illegal aliens was ill advised. It was poorly stated and it was just bad politics. And as Hume points out, it may have invalidated his “true conservative” credentials among those voters on the right looking for one – whether Perry really ever had those credentials or not (perhaps that moment was inevitable). That statement removed all doubt and put him in the same place among conservative voters as Mitt Romney, at least for the time being. The difference is that the GOP voters, especially conservatives, are used to Romney and will pull the lever for Romney if they have to given the alternative. The hope was Rick Perry would be the answer to their prayers. Instead he seems to be a disappointment. Less informed, much less polished and frankly unprepared.
Unless he steps up his game he will eventually be dismissed as “Mitt light”, and folks that’s a hard distinction to earn and one no politician should want if they’re on the right side of the political spectrum.