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The Brief: Sept. 27, 2011

On Monday, Rick Perry, still reeling from a pundit pile-on, went on the offensive.

Gov. Rick Perry announces his presidential bid in South Carolina on Aug. 13, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

On Monday, Rick Perry, still reeling from a pundit pile-on, went on the offensive.

The Perry campaign released a statement and video accusing Mitt Romney, Perry's chief rival, of deleting a line from the paperback version of his book, No Apology, that suggested the health care plan Romney signed into law while governor of Massachusetts could serve as a federal model. 

“Mitt Romney is trying to run from the fact that President Obama used 'Romneycare' as the model for 'Obamacare,'" the Perry campaign said.

The renewed attack on Romney came as Perry attempted to regroup from a rough week on the campaign trail in which he faltered badly at a Republican debate and lost the Florida Straw Poll, a contest he'd been expected to win. By the weekend, much of the conservative pundit class seemed to have soured on the governor. A Saturday Night Live sketch painting Perry as sleepy and unintelligible soon followed. And as The Dallas Morning News reports today, Dave Carney, Perry's top political adviser, held a conference call Sunday to allay supporters' concerns.

“He needs to regroup,” University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato told the Tribune. “He’s so uneven. He’s done well sometimes, poorly others. It’s unusual that you have a candidate who does show such a disparity in performance. I think part of that is exhaustion.”

Perry advisers admit that he needs more down time and debate prep. Sources close to the governor have also said privately, as the Tribune's Jay Root reports, that Perry struggles with standing for long periods of time because of lingering effects associated with his July back surgery.

Publicly, the Perry campaign denies any health problems. "His back is fine," said spokesman Robert Black.

Whatever his condition, Perry has time to prepare for the next Republican debate, which isn't until Oct. 11.

"This is going to be a long battle. It’s going to be a roller coaster," Sabato said. "Just because Perry had a really tough week, and he did, it doesn't mean that he can’t come back."

Culled:

  • Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post tangled on Monday with the Perry campaign over states' rights and the governor's view on marijuana legalization. "While the governor is personally opposed to legalizing the use of medical marijuana, if states want to allow doctor prescribed medical marijuana, it seems to him that under the 10th Amendment, they have the right to do so," Perry spokesman Mark Miner told Rubin, who had only this to say in response: "Oh my."
  • Chris Harris, R-Arlington, on Monday became the fourth Republican state senator to announce that he won't run for re-election next year, the Trib's Ross Ramsey reported. Harris, who has served in the Lege since 1985, threw his support behind Victor Vandergriff, son of the former Arlington mayor, congressman and Tarrant County judge. Shortly thereafter, Vandergriff announced his candidacy.
  • The El Paso Times reports that a county judge on Monday denied El Paso Mayor John Cook's request to extend a restraining order against a conservative Christian group trying to recall him and two city representatives for their votes in favor of extending benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees.

"If we're not going to give fellow Americans who live in Louisiana or Oklahoma or New Mexico the ability to come into Texas and have in-state tuition and save, then is it fair to give that break to people who are not citizens here? So, I would not have signed that law." — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to WFAA on the in-state tuition bill that Rick Perry signed in 2001, and for which the governor has taken heat among Republican primary voters

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