Perry Rebounds in S.C. Debate
SPARTANBURG, S.C.–Texas Governor Rick Perry climbed back into the debate saddle last night. It was his first time on stage after flubbing a campaign line. And, in another first, it was a good night for Perry.
He started the night clearly outside of the spotlight. The Governor ranked 5th in one South Carolina poll. So he was asked the 5th question of the night. But Perry regained the spotlight later in the night when said that as President, he would zero out all foreign aid budgets – and then justify what each country should be given by the U.S. That drew applause and a question of whether that includes Israel. The answer included the governor’s standard line on Israel’s importance to America…along with an acknowledgment of his stumble in the last debate.
“My bet is that we would be funding them at some substantial level. But it makes sense for everyone to come in at zero and make their case. As a matter of fact we ought to do that with some of those agencies I was trying to think the name of the other night,” Perry said, bringing hearty laughter from the audience at Wofford College.
Perry has used zero budgeting before. In 2003, when the state was facing a $10 billion budget shortfall, he required all state agencies to turn in zero-funded budgets, then justify their needs.
The governor also scored points with the audience, something he’s had real trouble doing so far in debates. He challenged Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s argument against enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding when trying to get information from enemy combatants.
“This is war. That’s what happens in war. And I am for using the techniques – not torture – but using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young American lives. And I will be for it until I die,” the governor said, drawing applause with the response.
While there was no Rick Perry in the post-debate spin room this time, there were plenty of smiling faces from the Perry campaign. Katon Dawson heads up the Perry campaign in South Carolina.
“Well, you know, we went from worst to 1st,” Dawson said. “We won the debate tonight.”
Did Perry really have the best debate? The question probably doesn’t matter. The simple fact that Governor Perry’s campaign felt comfortable making such a claim shows how well he did.