Maybe Rick Perry is 2012’s Fred Thompson After All

Back in August, when Rick Perry officially launched his campaign for President, some bloggers and columnists compared him to Fred Thompson, who got into the 08 race late because of good poll numbers.

I dismissed such comparisons at the time because they were superficial.  Besides, Rick Perry’s campaign was just beginning, making such comparisons premature:

Look, Perry is not Fred Thompson.  He’s the Governor of a state that’s doing well despite Obama’s war on prosperity.  Also, Perry’s fame is not based upon a poorly acted role on Law & Order.  It is based upon results.

Now, I’m starting to wonder if the comparison is correct.  After his poor performance at the Fox News/Google debate, Gov. Perry was met with a deluge of criticism:

Perry was roundly criticized by Republicans for tripping over his responses, especially his attempt to attack Mitt Romney for flip-flopping, and his statement in support of in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants. Critics used the words “only occasionally coherent” and “failure” to describe his speaking.

One of the most vocal critics was William Kristol, who penned a Weekly Standard editorial lamenting the sad state of the GOP presidential field, but Perry in particular. He wrote, “But no front-runner in a presidential field has ever, we imagine, had as weak a showing as Rick Perry. It was close to a disqualifying two hours for him.”

Peter Wehner, who worked in the last three Republican administrations, echoed the sentiment that Perry is all but done. He wrote for Commentary magazine, “I hope Governor Rick Perry enjoyed his six-week run as the front runner of the GOP field, because it’s now over.”

Even Erick Erickson wrote on RedState, which organized the event where Perry announced his candidacy, “Rick Perry was a train wreck in this debate. He flubbed his response on Romney flip-flopping. He got the first question tonight and stumbled. Good grief.”

Ross Kaminsky at the American Spectator said that Perry’s performance validated criticism that “he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

Perry’s long-time critics did not pull punches either. Joe Scarborough said, “Rick Perry looked as uncomfortable as a chimp opening a suitcase.”

I really don’t care what Joe Scarborough thinks, especially because the chimp comparison is stupid.  Imagine what would have happened if he compared President Obama to a chimp.

The other people quoted above make valid points.  Throughout the debate I kept thinking how terrible Perry was doing.  As the night wore on, he got worse.  It was embarrassing.

To avoid fading out like Fred Thompson did in 08, Gov. Perry needs to do better against Romney in debates.  Romney is a polished debater, and no one questions his intellect.  Perry, on the other hand, appears to be a tired, confused, stupid, and incoherent cowboy.

If Gov. Perry wants to end up like Fred Thompson, he can keep doing whatever it is that he’s doing.  But if he’s serious about defeating Barack Obama, he needs to get his act together.  Otherwise, conservatives will look elsewhere for a competent challenger to Obama.

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About Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib, a junior at American University, is President of AU College Republicans.
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