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October 27, 2011

Is Rick Perry Going To Skip Some Debates?

It sounds like it.

Arguing the election cycle has too many presidential debates, Rick Perry's top spokesman said the Texas governor could use more time with voters instead of taking the stage with Republican opponents.

"We're about 60 days away from votes being cast," communications director Ray Sullivan said on CNN's "John King, USA" Wednesday. "The candidates need to spend time in Iowa doing those town halls and spending a lot more time with the voters, who oftentimes have the best questions and press the candidates the hardest."


"But look, we're taking each of these as they come, examining the schedule and examining the opportunities and the opportunity costs," Sullivan told King, CNN's chief national correspondent.


"We certainly respect the process, but when you've got eight of nine candidates and 30 seconds to a minute, it takes valuable time away from campaigning in Iowa, as those elections approach," Sullivan said.

Perry started to lay the ground work for this Tuesday night on Bill O'Reilly's show saying participating in debates may have been his biggest mistake to date.

Are these debates ideal? Of course not. Should the GOP hand over its nomination process to people who for the most part are liberal democratic operatives posing as journalists? No, it shouldn't. I've written more than once that these debates are awful. So don't think I'm defending them when I say this....if Perry starts skipping debates he's essentially quitting the race.

Skipping debates is something you can do when you're the front runner and don't have anything to gain by participating. When you're barely a second tier candidate like Perry? You simply can't give up any chance to make your case to voters.

Perry also has a very specific reason he can't skip any debate. His fall from front runner status is almost entirely due to his awful debate performances. He simply can't say he's not good at these things and skip them. Being President means you're going to face things you're not good at, dealing with them isn't optional.

Part of the "job interview" aspect of the campaign is getting voters comfortable with you. No one can know what issues a President will face or how they will react to everything that will come up in a term. Candidates have to establish a confidence in voters that when push comes to shove, their experience and judgement will be up to the challenge. Running away from a challenge won't instill that feeling about Perry in the minds of voters.

Perry will also open himself up to criticism that if he can't deal with Mitt Romney or Hermann Cain, why would anyone think he can deal with Barack Obama? Perry would likely argue that he'd be better in a one on one setting than these mass events but who would believe him?

If Perry is going to do this he needs to agree to participate in some one on one debates with other candidates. I doubt Romney would agree to it so I think Perry should try setting up some events with Newt Gingrich. If Perry wants to show he's not afraid of debating and he's ready for prime time, go pick a fight with the guy generally believed to be the heavyweight champion of the discipline. If Perry can best Newt or even hold his own, he'll do himself a lot of good.

Perry can't wish this away. He lost his lead because of his performances in these debates, avoiding them isn't going to get it back.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:30 AM

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