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The Brief: Nov. 17, 2011

Debates have nearly led to Rick Perry's undoing, but the governor thinks he could at least take Nancy Pelosi.

Gov. Rick Perry enters the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa, during a three-day campaign swing through the Hawkeye State on Aug. 14, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Debates have nearly led to Rick Perry's undoing, but the governor thinks he could at least take Nancy Pelosi.

As The Hill reported on Wednesday, Perry has challenged Peolsi, the U.S. House minority leader, to debate him next week on his plans to turn Congress into a part-time governing body.

"I am in Washington Monday and would love to engage you in a public debate about my Overhaul Washington plan versus the congressional status quo," Perry wrote in a letter to Pelosi, referring to his recently unveiled government-reform plan, which also calls for an end to lifetime appointments for federal judges and the elimination of three federal agencies. Perry spent Wednesday in New Hampshire urging voters to "browbeat" members of Congress into considering his proposal.

"I think it would be a tremendous service to the American people to see a public airing of these differences," the letter says. "Let the people decide. If Monday doesn't work, perhaps we could find a time in Iowa over the course of the next month to discuss these issues in front of the people of America's heartland."

Pelosi's office hasn't responded to the unconventional offer. As The Hill notes, presidential candidates don't usually challenge members of Congress to debates. Pelosi, though, has become a favorite punching bag among Republicans, who have targeted her — to great success, at times — in many congressional races across the country.

"Should you choose not to respond or engage in such a healthy discussion, I will take it to mean you will continue your obstructionist ways in the face of much needed Washington reform," Perry wrote.


  • Iterations of The Response, the huge prayer rally Rick Perry held in August before jumping into the presidential race, may be coming to a town near you — if you happen to live in an early-primary state. Though the website for the event says the gatherings "will not be affiliated with any particular presidential candidates" and are "committed to prayer above politics," rallies are scheduled for Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona — which could all play key roles in Perry's path to the Republican nomination.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the El Paso Times on Wednesday that the Obama administration will in the coming months back away from new border-security initiatives and instead work to sustain ongoing security tactics. Napolitano held a White House roundtable with border law enforcement officers earlier on Wednesday at which she and other Obama administration officials rejected Republicans' characterizations of the border as a war zone.
  • A University of Texas student got 15 minutes of notoriety Wednesday for a message she posted on Twitter following news reports about an Idaho man firing shots at the White House. "Y'all as tempting as it may be, don't shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we've EVER had! #2012," tweeted the student, Lauren Pierce, an intern for Americans for Prosperity-Texas and for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's campaign for U.S. Senate. As Pierce, who later issued several apologies on Twitter and deleted the original Tweet, told the Tribune, "This is so stupid."

"I think people now realize more the dangers of the scripted candidate." — Former Houston Mayor Bill White to the Houston Chronicle on Rick Perry, who famously refused to debate White in the 2010 governor's race


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