After the incumbent Republican governor's appearance, National Conference of Editorial Writers President Tom Waseleski issued an open letter to Perry saying the group was "stunned and disappointed" that he did not take questions. And they aren't buying any argument about time constraints, because, according to the letter, Perry had "ample time to work the room by shaking hands."
Perry spokesman Mark Miner described the tone of the letter as "inappropriate" and said, "It’s unfortunate that the president of the organization would think so highly of himself and his organization that he would write a letter like he did."
Miner said the group was aware that Perry would not be taking questions and that, as Miner puts it, "he had a schedule to keep."
In a press release casting the incident as a "gaffe" on Perry's part, Katy Bacon, campaign spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White said, "A room full of informed questioners is career politician Rick Perry’s worst nightmare."
Perry's campaign has notably opted to forego meetings with Texas editorial boards in his re-election effort. Miner says the governor's time is better spent talking directly to Texans through media, social media and public events. He noted that Perry was criticized in the letter for speaking with members of the local press after his speech. "Perry is more focused on the Texas press than on editorial writers from Sheboygan, Wisconsin," he said.
Here's the letter:
September 23, 2010
Dear Gov. Perry:
The National Conference of Editorial Writers was stunned and disappointed today when you spoke at our luncheon and did not take questions.
Had it been due to a tight schedule, we would have understood. But, clearly, you had ample time to work the room by shaking hands both before and after your talk. You also gave an extended interview before TV cameras in the hallway, in full view of NCEW members for whom you indicated you had no more time.
This is an affront to any notion of civil discourse, such as the kind you have called for on other occasions.
We believe you and your staff have been disingenuous in the characterization of your schedule. If you had hoped to make a positive impression on this national press group, I must tell you that you utterly failed.