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Rick Perry's debate trouble. And what's up with the boos?

There was a pretty clear consensus from a few folks we spoke to as the crowd poured out of last night's debate: Rick Perry is the man Florida Republicans overwhelmingly favor. Here's our debate story

But they overwhelmingly cringed at Perry's performance, especially the second hour (this isn't the first time he seemed to wilt late in the game). A favorite word to describe the Texas governor: "stumbled." Perry was clobbered, again, by all sides. But he had trouble at times enunciating his own attacks, such as one toward the end against Mitt Romney over the former Massachusets governor's flip-floppery over abortion.

"I like Perry but boy, he didn't do well. He stumbled," said former state Sen. Carey Baker of Eustis, who still expected to support Perry.

Another Republican, a longtime source, told us an interesting behind-the-scenes anecdote about the so-called "green rooms" where each candidate waits off stage and preps for the debate. Mitt Romney had a big table with policy papers stacked on it. Perry's didn't and some say he didn't seem to be rehearsing. Not sure if this is true. But the fact that this is making the rounds at Presidency 5 is another problem for Perry.

Also, Republicans like Senate President Mike Haridopolos said they want their candidates to enunciate specific, concrete plans to fix the economy. Perry refused to offer much, saying he'd announce a jobs plan later.

If this keeps happening, expect the electability argument to start haunting Perry. Republicans abhor the notion that Obama would rhetorically eat their candidate alive on stage. Also, polls show Perry beats Romney, but Romney's the better general-election candidate. And he's sounding more and more like a general-election candidate by stressing middle-class tax cuts.

By contrast, Romney supporters seemed more enthused about their candidate's performance. And there was a sense of longing -- that Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain aren't far enough along to make it. They got the most love.

Sure seems like Cain is on the short list as a vice-presidential candidate -- especially if Perry makes it as the party's nominess. Cain has the business bonafides and it would help the ticket to have an African American to oppose the first African American president. Gingrich seems ready to be an ambassador or Cabinet member, though he'd be tough to control for any president.

Then there's the matter of boos.

Once again, Perry got booed for standing up for the so-called "Texas Dream Act" that subsidized higher-education tuition for some illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as kids. And there were boos directed at a gay soldier who spoke against the just-ended Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Conservative blogger Sarah Rumpf was in the room and reports that the boos directed at the soldier were only from one or two people, but the accoustics in the concrete-bunker of a chamber made it seem far louder.

Liberal bloggers pounced Thursday. They said this was a low point for the crowd and for candidate Rick Santorum, who hasn't served in the military and essentially told this soldier that he shouldn't, either. , because sex has no place in the military. Somehow gayness didn't hurt the military abilities of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar (whom Suetonius called every man's woman and every woman's man) or, perhaps, the Revolutionary War figure Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.

The booing of the soldier mortified a number of Republicans, who are still surprised that someone at the Sept. 12 Tampa tea party debate screamed 'Let 'em die" in response to a question about end-of-life care for a person who can't afford the treatment. Death Panels anyone?

True, it's only a few people in the crowd who can't keep their mouths shut. But the outbursts keep happening and happening and.....

 

Comments

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Linda

I'm more concerned about how Perry, wheels and deals behind the focus on politics. Michele Bachmann, revealed a lot with her interview after the debate. Someone needs to bring this information out for the public to see.
No more secrets let it all hang out for and on all them. We the people need to know all.

Superpower

Who votes for a politician that takes 100k of his contituent's hard earned tax dallars and gives it to an illegal Mexican in Texas for his/her education, yet the legal constituent's children must pay? Sorry, Rick!

john travis

Don't you know some of the distastefull comments coming from one or two people are coming from plants? That is people planted by the political opposition. I am surprised you would even give credence to such outbursts by singular people. That would seem to add partisanship to your reporting.

Robert

I don't think it's a case of Rick Perry wilting in the second half of debates. It's just he's not that smart and it always comes out when he talks. I'm sure the next debate will be more of the same.

Incidentally, I'm surprised I haven't seen an article written about all the clumsy attacks Rick made during the debate. Many of them were off topic even. I thought it made him seem annoying, amateurish, unfit for a national debate.

Martha

Fact: Texans apparently agreed with this law, approved 177-4. If Perry had vetoed in-state tuition, the legislature would have passed it anyway. It is a states' rights issue and does not affect any other state. Perry said he would not take it nationally. Period. Someone asked why do illegals go to Texas schools anyway? Here is the FACT:

In 1982 Texas lost a class action case (Plyler v. Doe) over a Texas law that refused funding for these children. The United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision that the Texas law was in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the equal protection clause. The court also said the following which I think Perry is trying to say but not well:

"... the record is clear that many of the undocumented children disabled by this classification will remain in this country indefinitely, and that some will become lawful residents or citizens of the United States. It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime. It is thus clear that whatever savings might be achieved by denying these children an education, they are wholly insubstantial in light of the costs involved to these children, the state, and the Nation." That is what perry is trying to say. We don't want to turn these children into criminals or welfare recipients.

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