Gov. Rick Perry is an exceptionally effective retail politician, but debate stumbles slowed down and reversed his standing in the polls. As has been widely suspected, his back surgery during the summer, just a few weeks before he announced his run for the presidency, has played a big role in those debate performances.
Q: You struggled in the early debates. Do you regret not getting out to Iowa earlier to get your feet wet?
A: Looking back and trying to “would have, could have, should have” is an interesting question to ask, but the facts are the facts. I didn’t even make the decision to run until very late June, and I had surgery on my back in very late July.
Q: How is your back?
A: My back is great. I’m back running again for the last six weeks. I think part of the reason you have seen a somewhat different candidate on the debates is my health, and (I’m) both physically and mentally just back in the game. You have fusion on your back, and it takes you a while to get back on your game.
Q: So were you not feeling good in those early debates?
A: I would suggest to you that I was pretty fatigued. No excuses. It was error. It’s what it is. Look, if anybody is looking for the perfect candidate, I’m not it.
No excuses; it is what it is. Contrast that straightforward statement with just about anything coming from the Obama administration and the Democrats. According to them, everything is Bush’s fault, and you can’t believe your lyin’ eyes.
What could Perry have done about the back trouble? Not much. I don’t think staying on the sidelines was an option, given the fact that his wife and many in his inner circle were pushing him to run. Back pain tends to be temporary; the damage President Obama is doing to the country may be permanent. Perhaps Perry could have noted the back trouble up front, but it’s possible that the problem only became apparent over time.
But as Perry says, it is what it is. He says he’s feeling better now, and it showed in the most recent debate.