With Texas Gov. Rick Perry's polling numbers sharply sliding after several weak debate performances, Tuesday night's GOP roundtable in New Hampshire was a "make-or-break moment" for the flailing presidential hopeful, says Byron York at The Washington Examiner. And Perry simply didn't deliver. If anything, it often looked as if the disengaged candidate had decided to just "take a nap" onstage," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Perry made things worse after the debate when he visited a local frat house and made a "head-slapping gaffe" by suggesting that Americans fought the Revolutionary War in the 16th century. (It was actually the 18th century.) "With his popularity waning and yet another bad debate behind him," writes York, "is Rick Perry finished?"
Yep. He's toast: Perry is "clearly a good man and an effective governor," says Alexander Marlow at Big Government. But after eight weeks in the race, he has yet to demonstrate "that he could make his high school debate team," let alone square off against Obama in the general election or — gulp — handle the presidency. During his nail-in-the-coffin performance Tuesday, a "giant vaudeville cane should have come out to pull him off stage."
"Debate reaction: Why does the GOP do this?"
Don't count Perry out: "I wouldn't write him off just yet," says Erick Erickson at RedState. This is a candidate with $15 million in the bank, and a passionate group of supporters. Remember when everyone thought he was doomed after blowing a question about Social Security in the first debate? His poll numbers actually improved after that. Next week's debate is the real key. Perry will reportedly unveil the energy and economic plans he's been promising. "That'll give him an opportunity to get back on the jobs message," and show that he has what it takes.
"The Perry performance"
It all depends how much debates matter: Whether it's fund-raising, retail politicking in the Midwest and South, or doing interviews, "Perry seems to handle himself in all other aspects of campaigning superbly," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. It's only in debates that he suffers. Of course, debates are necessary to give voters an idea of "whether a candidate has enough command of issues and rhetoric to succeed in Washington." Perry still has time to repair the damage from his debating failures, but just how much time depends on the answer to a key question: "How much do debates matter" to voters? If the answer is "a lot," as I suspect it is, Perry had better shape up quick.
"Is Perry finished?"
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