"Rick Perry really hates debates," says Rick Dunham in the Houston Chronicle. The Texas governor made that clear in a Tuesday night interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, saying his biggest presidential campaign mistake "was probably ever doing one of the [debates]," which are "set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates." On Wednesday, his campaign suggested that Perry would skip at least some (and maybe all) of the remaining debates after a Nov. 9 face-off in Michigan. "There have already been unprecedented numbers" of GOP debates, says Perry press chief Ray Sullivan. "At some point, the real candidates need to spend time with voters, with local media, and in town halls." Given Perry's spotty performances, is skipping future debates a winning idea?
No. Perry absolutely must show up: Bailing on the debates is pure folly, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Perry needs "some serious face time" with voters to get back into the race, and debates reach a lot more people than meet-and-greets. Plus, avoiding his rivals makes Perry look terrible. It's "a strategy designed to keep Perry from doing more damage to himself, and that won't impress many primary voters," especially in early-voting states Iowa and South Carolina, which are each hosting upcoming debates. "Which of those two would Perry like to snub?"
"Perry backing away from the debates?"
But he raises a good point: Perry has to suck it up and debate, says Rob Port at Say Anything, in part because "bad media coverage from a debate is better than no media attention at all because you're not attending." And yet, I can see why Perry views debates as a waste of his time. The forums have become "gimmicky" reality TV, with the moderators "trying to bait the candidates into attacking one another and throw out tabloidy soundbites." If anything, maybe all the candidates should bail.
"Rick Perry may skip future debates"
It doesn't matter. The damage is done: Refusing to participate in tough debates, or to speak in front of unfriendly audiences, has worked great for Perry in Texas, says Paul Burka at Texas Monthly. But it won't work on the national stage, where candidates are held to a much tougher standard. The bottom line is that Perry really blew it by foolishly saying "that debating was his biggest mistake." That's politically toxic, arrogant, and makes Perry look deeply "unsure of himself and afraid to face the public." Voters won't soon forget that. Perhaps Perry's "biggest mistake was saying that debating was his biggest mistake."
"Perry says debating was his biggest mistake"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 10 things you need to know today: April 17, 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Texas has been holding this man hostage for 12,600 days
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Why Holy Thursday is so important to Christians
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
Subscribe to the Week