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The Brief: Nov. 14, 2011

For Rick Perry, it may take more than his solid showing at Saturday's foreign policy debate to erase the "oops."

The set at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. on Oct. 10, 2011, the night before Rick Perry's fourth Republican presidential…

The Big Conversation:

For Rick Perry, it may take more than his solid showing at Saturday's foreign policy debate to erase the "oops."

As the Tribune's Jay Root and Morgan Smith reported, Perry over the weekend turned in one of his best debate performances yet on a subject often regarded as one of his weak spots: foreign policy.

Perry's assured performance at the CBS News/National Journal debate — during which he said he was "for using the techniques, not torture, but using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young Americans' lives" — came just three days after he emphatically declared at a CNBC Republican debate that he'd shut down three government agencies, and then promptly forgot the third agency.

His impressive showing on Saturday may distract from the brain freeze, which has been called one of the most monumental debate gaffes in recent political history.

“This isn’t going to catapult him into first place, but it could halt the slide,” Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, told the Tribune. “He turned in a solid performance. If he had been like this all along, he would be in a much stronger position.”

But the governor will likely need more than that to right his flagging campaign, from which some donors have begun retreating. After all, the debate aired Saturday, the same night Saturday Night Live kept the gaffe alive by mocking the governor in its cold open.

And a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out Sunday, conducted after Perry's misstep, showed the governor's national support falling from 8 percent to 4 percent.

As for Saturday's debate, the other Texan in the race, Ron Paul, didn't fare as well, complaining afterward that he'd been ignored. "Ninety seconds," Paul's campaign manager wrote in an email to supporters. "That's how much of the first hour of tonight's GOP debate was given to Ron Paul. 90 measly seconds out of 3,600 seconds."

Culled:

  • The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the market for books on Rick Perry, much like his poll numbers, has diminished since the governor began to stumble through debates earlier this fall. "I had a deal, and then Perry blew it," Austin-based journalist R.G. Ratcliffe told the Star-Telegram. Perry's "oops" at CNBC's Republican debate on Wednesday, though, has spurred Bush's Brain co-author James Moore and Democratic political consultant Jason Stanford to move up the release of an electronic format of their Perry-centered work, Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush, to this week. "Adios mofo has taken on a whole new meaning since Wednesday," Stanford said.
  • Groesbeck, a small ranching town east of Waco, has appeared near the top of a state list of communities at risk of running out of water within the next six months. Looking for a temporary solution, as the Tribune's Susannah Jacob reports, the city has already begun pumping water from a nearby quarry, but the quick fix isn't guaranteed to work, and could prove costly.
  • The Dallas Morning News reports that the state over the past decade has dialed back its strong nursing home enforcement. In a two-and-a-half month investigation, the Morning News found that current and former inspectors have been discouraged from reporting bad conditions, regulators have at times performed perfunctory background checks on nursing home operators and state budget cuts have bled a quarter of the state's nursing home employees since 2001.

"DON’T STOP!” — The line moderator John Harwood heard in his earpiece from a producer at Wednesday's Republican debate when Rick Perry began struggling to name the third agency of three that he would eliminate

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