Perry’s Debate Debacle Aftermath
Before the “um” heard round the world Wednesday night, political pundits were saying that Texas Governor Rick Perry had to win South Carolina in order to remain a viable candidate in the GOP presidential primary. Now the question is whether that’s changed from “Must Win” to “Can’t Win.”
Joe Dugan watched Wednesday nights GOP debate with a group of republican activists at a restaurant in South Carolina. Dugan heads the Myrtle Beach Tea Party and helps coordinate its state-wide efforts. He said watching the governor’s gaffe was uncomfortable, many people there felt sorry for him.
“Cause we’ve all experienced moments like that, where you’re speaking in front of a group and for whatever reason you just draw a blank in your mind,” Dugan said.
Dugan was skeptical of a Perry campaign comeback, the governor had dropped to 4th place in the polls even before the debate. But Dugan isn’t ready to declare his candidacy dead.
“Anything can happen. If it happened to him last night. It can happen to another candidate at the next debate. But time is running short,” Dugan said.
And yet there still may be a few 2nd chances left for the Perry campaign. Evan Smith is CEO and editor-in-chief of KUT’s political reporting partner the Texas Tribune. He says it’s premature to count Perry out because he remains Mitt Romney biggest competition.
“Herman Cain was not going to be President before the sexual harassment scandal came up. And he’s certainly not going to be President now,” Smith said, “the only way Newt Gingrich is gonna get into the White House is if he goes on the tour. And other than that it falls off the cliff in terms of plausibility of candidates with the exception of Perry.”
Perry is believed to have enough money to campaign through the first four primary elections. But his continued debate mishaps will require a change in strategy. Could that mean throwing all his money and time to make a last stand in South Carolina?
“A more likely scenario is that the focus is no long simply on South Carolina,” Smith said, “or I should say he no longer has the luxury of writing off a 1st place victory in Iowa and New Hampshire on the assumption that he can regain everything in South Carolina. I think he’s got to double down on Iowa now.”
Winning Iowa might be a necessity for Perry to convince South Carolina voters he’s a viable candidate. Based on a poll taken of the people who watched the debate in South Carolina, Tea Party leader Joe Dugan – says the governor has a very large hole to climb out.
“Nobody that voted in the poll voted for either Romney or Perry,” Dugan said.
Historically, that’s actually not so bad for Perry. Think back to the polls released during the second week of November 2007. Then Rudy Giuliani had nearly twice as much support as 2nd place Fred Thompson, 30 percent to 16 percent. With the eventual nominee, John McCain, trailing in third.