I don’t have a special devotion to any candidate in particular, but I do believe winning this election is vital to our future. There is no doubt that the best way to address the problems that our country faces is through the implementation of conservative policies. I was honestly excited about the Perry candidacy from the start because he seemed like a good option to provide a stark contrast to Barack Obama in 2012. The primary issue in this election is jobs and no one can compete with Perry’s record of developing an environment for job creation. Further adding to that excitement was my belief that Perry could truly unite conservatives and Republicans against Obama. There are some real concerns over Perry’s record, but none of them were deal breakers for me. There are no perfect candidates and Perry’s conservative shortcomings have been vastly exaggerated. However, Perry has truly underperformed in recent debates. I am not one of the people that would vote based on debate performances alone as I feel a candidate’s record and principles are way more indicative of their governing potential, but it does affect the perception that many others will have of Perry. I cannot support a candidate that cannot explain his positions, beliefs or shortcomings because that lack of explanation will seriously hinder them in the general election. Governor Perry does have plenty of time to turn this perception around, but he needs to start soon. It is not for him, but for my belief that he can become a worthy candidate to defeat Obama that I offer the following for Governor Perry and his team: A critique of his answers in the debate,
Paraphrased Q: How would you help small businesses as president?
Answer: Well, Rick Scott is sitting right over there, and he and I compete every day with trying to get jobs into our states. And what we have done in the state of Texas over the course of the last decade is to lower that tax burden on the small businessmen and women, have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable, and sweeping tort reform that we passed in 2003 that told personal injury trial lawyers, don't come to Texas, because you are not going to be suing our doctors frivolously.
That's the way you get the government off of the back of small businessmen and women. And that's the way you free up those small business entrepreneurs, where they know that they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on investment.
If it will work in the state of Texas, it will work in Washington, D.C. And that's exactly what I'm going bring to Washington when I go there in November -- or, excuse me, in January of 2013.
Reaction: Perry should focus more on how he would translate his success in Texas into success for America. Also, this would have been a good time to mention the repeal of Obamacare, the biggest threat to small business growth in the near future. In fact, his later answer as to how he would turn the country around would have been perfect here.
Governor Perry, Governor Romney has been hammering you on your idea of turning Social Security back to the states, repeatedly. Can you explain specifically how 50 separate Social Security systems are supposed to work?
PERRY: Well, let me just say first, for those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don't have anything in the world to worry about. We have made a solemn oath to the people of this country that that Social Security program in place today will be there for them.
Now, it's not the first time that Mitt has been wrong on some issues before. And the bottom line is, is we never said that we were going to move this back to the states. What we said was, we ought to have as one of the options the state employees and the state retirees, they being able to go off of the current system, on to one that the states would operate themselves.
As a matter of fact, in Massachusetts, his home state, almost 96 percent of the people who are on that program, retirees and state people, are off of the Social Security program. So having that option out there to have the states -- Louisiana does it, almost every state has their state employees and the retirees that are options to go off of Social Security.
That makes sense. It's an option that we should have.
ROMNEY: Now, my own view is, that we have to make it very, very clear that Social Security is a responsibility of the federal government, not the state governments, that we're going to have one plan, and we're going to make sure that it's fiscally sound and stable.
And I'm absolutely committed to keeping Social Security working. I put in my book that I wrote a couple of years ago a plan for how we can do that and to make sure Social Security stable not just for the next 25 years, but for the next 75.
PERRY: Speaking of books and talking about being able to have things in your books, back and forth, your economic adviser talked about Romneycare and how that was an absolute bust. And it was exactly what Obamacare was all about.
As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said it was exactly what the American people needed, to have that Romneycare given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out. So, speaking of not getting it straight in your book sir, that would be a --
Reaction: Perry should not have brought up health care here. While the book change was a legitimate attack on Romney, he should have waited for the subject to come up, instead it seems like he is just deflecting from Romney’s criticism. What Perry should have said is: I assure you Governor Romney, that I don’t switch my views on issues based on polling, like some politicians. The belief that I was trying to explain in my book and the one that I still have is that Social Security is underfunded and will not be there for our future generations if we do not do something soon. No one is proposing getting rid of Social Security, especially for current beneficiaries. Instead of scaring voters for political purposes, we should be putting more ideas on the table as to how to fix the program to give young workers retirement options that they know will still be there when their time comes.
Question on education:
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: There are a lot of good ideas here on the side and whether it is cutting back on the Department of Education, making those types of reductions.
I happen to believe we ought to be promoting school choice all across this country. I think school -- the voucher system, charter schools all across this country. But there is one person on this stage that is for Obama's Race to the Top and that is Governor Romney. He said so just this last week. And I think that is an important difference between the rest of the people on this stage and one person that wants to run for the presidency.Being in favor of the Obama Race to the Top and that is not conservative.
Reaction: Perry was right about Romney, but that should not have been the focus of over half his answer. Perry comes off as more concerned with attacking his competition than addressing the question or his own policies. Perry should have mentioned the benefits of local control as several other candidates did and emphasized his experiences in Texas. He could have still gotten the dig about race to the top in without focusing on it.
Dave Hollenback (ph) of Arizona sent this "To date, it appears that you have not tried to stop the illegals from coming. We have high unemployment and a considerable amount of jobs going to illegals. Are you going to exert an effort to stop the abuse of U.S. citizens by illegals?"
Now, last year, more than 16,000 children of illegals, young people in Texas, took advantage of your in-state tuition rate. Speak to that issue. And just, generally, how do you feel being criticized by a number of these other candidates on the stage for being too soft on immigration, sir?
PERRY: Well, I feel pretty normal getting criticized by these folks, but the fact of the matter is this: there is nobody on this stage who has spent more time working on border security than I have.
For a decade, I've been the governor of a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. We put $400 million of our taxpayer money into securing that border. We've got our Texas Ranger recon teams there now. I supported Arizona's immigration law by joining in that lawsuit to defend it. Every day I have Texans on that border that are doing their job. But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society. I think that's what Texans wanted to do. Out of 181 members of the Texas legislature, when this issue came up, only four dissenting votes. This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it greatly.
My reaction: This is the issue that I disagree with Perry most on, but in many ways I respect his sticking by his position. The right thing to do in this answer was to emphasize his strength on immigration security while downplaying the tuition issue as a state issue. He could also point out the major differences between the federal Dream Act and the one being referred to in Texas. The real trouble here and the reason that this is probably his worst answer was his use of the word “heartless”. This is the terminology that liberals typically use against opponents and I suggest Governor Perry apologize for it in a future answer. The people who disagree with him on tuition for Illegal aliens do so for very legitimate reasons and it is unfair and counterproductive to bring in emotional arguments and name-calling into the debate. This answer opened Perry up to a very good response and fair knock by Santorum on the straw man of not educating Illegal aliens, but then Santorum oversteps by claiming Perry is soft on illegal immigration. Santorum brings up issues such as bi-national health insurance and the border fence as evidence of Perry’s softness, but these attacks are baseless. The problem however is Perry failed to respond to these issues and it makes it appear like these are legitimate deficits in the governor’s record. As Kevin Williams explains, the proposal by the governor was very much in line with conservative beliefs and had nothing to do with government intervention in health care. Furthermore, Perry has a history of strong border enforcement and even Santorum has agreed in the past that there are more efficient ways of controlling some parts of the border than an actual fence. Those are points that should have been made by Governor Perry.
Baier: Which brings us to this, Governor Perry, if you were president, and you go a call at 3 am telling you that Pakistan had lost control of is nuclear weapons, at the hands of the Taliban, what would be your first move?
PERRY: Well obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That's one of the things that this administration has not done. Yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with -- and that's the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States.
For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16's, we chose not to do that. We did the same with Taiwan. The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them.
Today, we don't have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.
Reaction: Obviously this is a horrible hypothetical to answer as a presidential candidate and Perry should have responded that the question relies on a hypothetical that we must ensure does not come true. His actual answer was all over the place. The central point that we must treat our real allies better is an important one, but the formulation here must clearly be better. Perry could have also scored points by saying that Pakistan must be held accountable for any support for terrorism if our tax dollars will be used to give them aid. That aid must be conditional on complete cooperation with us in fighting terrorism.
Bachmann attack on HPV Issue
PERRY: Thank you.
I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer. I spent a lot of time with her. She came by my office talked to me about in program.
I readily admitted we should have had an opt-in, in this program. But, I don't know what part of opt-out most parents don't get. And the fact is, I erred on the side of life and I will always err on the side of life as a governor as the president of the United States.
Reaction: This response was a good one during the debate, but it later turned out that Perry did not meet the woman until after he signed the order. He must be more careful about making these claims in the future. Unlike Obama, the media will not cover up mistakes and mistruths for Perry. Perry should also emphasize that part of the problem with the debate is the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine, including some recently promoted by Rep. Bachmann.
WALLACE: Governor Perry, I now have a question for you. Texas has the most uninsured residents of any state in the country, 25 percent.
In the last debate, you blamed it on restrictions imposed by the federal government. But we checked about that, sir, in fact the feds treat Texas like they do all the other big states. On its own, on its own, Texas has imposed some of the toughest eligibility rules for Medicaid of any state in the country. In fact, you rank 49th in Medicaid coverage of low income residents.
So the question is, isn't Texas' uninsured problem because of decisions made by Texas?
PERRY: Well, I disagree with your analysis there, because we've had a request in for the federal government so that we could have a Medicaid waiver for years. And the federal government has stopped us from having that Medicaid waiver. Allowing the state of Texas, or for that matter the other states that we're making reference to here, that have waivers give them more options to be able to give the options, there's a menu of options that we could have, just like Jon Huntsman talked about. That is how we go forward with our health care. Each state deciding how they're going to deliver that health care. Not one size fits all. And I think this whole concept of not allowing the states to come up with the best ideas about how to deliver health care in their state. And the fact is, people continue to move to the state of Texas. Some of the highest rates in the country, because we've created a state where opportunity is very much the word of the day there, if you will, for finding work and what have you. And our health care is part of that. Our education is part of that. And we are proud of what we put together in the state of Texas.
Reaction: Besides some phrasing concerns, this was the right answer. Perry could have further emphasized how the number of uninsured is severely inflated by Illegal aliens.
Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond (Romney defense of Romneycare).
PERRY: I think Americans just don't know sometimes which Mitt Romney they're dealing with. Is it the Mitt Romney that was on the side of against the Second Amendment before he was for the Second Amendment?
Was it -- was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade? He was for Race to the Top, he's for Obamacare, and now he's against it. I mean, we'll wait until tomorrow and --
and-- and see which Mitt Romney we're really talking to tonight.
Reaction: This was the perfect opportunity to criticize Romney on his weakest issue by pointing to the similarities between Obamacare and Romneycare, but Perry failed to do that. There are quite a few troubling statistics about the cost and affect Romneycare has had on Massachusetts that would also be helpful in a response here. The attack on Romney for switching many of his positions is a valid one, but Perry must articulate it much better. A good way to do that and emphasize the actual question would be to point out that Romney was not running from his healthcare plan until it was evident that Americans reject Obamacare or any system like it. At the end of the day, Republicans need a candidate that believes in the policies they advocate because of their principles, no their politics.
Brett Baier: Now, I'm not asking for your jobs plan here. What I'm asking for is, how are you going to turn this country around? We'll go down the row, 30 seconds each.
PERRY: Americans -- Americans want a leader who's got a proven record of job creation. Number one, we get rid of Obamacare. Secondly, we pull back all of those regulations that are job-killing today, whether it's Dodd-Frank or whether it's the EPA.
And then we sit with Congress and we lower those corporate tax rates, we lower those personal tax rates, and then we put our plan to make America energy independent, and that is the way you get America working again.
Reaction: Perry had a great answer if the question was how to get American’s working again, but Baier specifically asked for something other than a jobs plan. This was the time to emphasize how strong America is and how Perry will be a leader that will get us back to the point where people believe in this country and our future. Creating jobs will be very important in this election, but our candidate must also emphasize that they have a different vision of what America is and will be. Perry must emphasize that, unlike Obama, he believes in the exceptional nature of this country.
I still believe Rick Perry is the best candidate on paper to face off against Obama, but that will not matter if he cannot articulate that to others. Rick Perry is free to use any of my advice or ignore it, but I do hope he comes up with better answers in the near future. If not, I and many others will face the reality that he is not the candidate we were hoping for.