Today he’s announced an end to his campaign for President. It’s quite a remarkable fall from grace for the Governor of Texas.
When he announced his candidacy, it was against a huge backdrop of goodwill, money and a serious conservative message. He stirred audiences with ‘Michael Bay like’ adverts and speeches that could inspire even the most introvert to get up and scream. In September 2011, he was polling nationally at 31%, now at the time of his suspending his campaign he is polling at 6%.
He had some great moments during his campaign. One of the highlights for me was following an online video purportedly showing Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta called the act deplorable, Perry’s response was fabulous:
At what turned out to be his last debate on Monday 16th January 2012, he was asked to clarify his comments, after the Obama administration’s terming of the Marines’ actions as “despicable”. He said:"These kids made a mistake, there's not any doubt about it." "They shouldn't have done it, it's bad—but to call it a criminal act, I think is over the top,". "Obviously 18, 19-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often and that's what's occurred here."
"Let me tell you what’s despicable, cutting *Danny Pearl’s head off.”*Daniel Pearl was a Jewish American journalist. On January 23, 2002 he was kidnapped near the Metropole Hotel, Pakistan by a militant group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. The group claimed Pearl was a spy. Nine days later, Pearl was beheaded.
So what happened?
Some claim that his heart wasn’t really in it; others say that he was recovering from a recent back operation and wasn’t able to function at full capacity.
Some of that maybe true, but in my opinion, he was a woeful debater and he got found out in the end. A rock-solid debater is crucial against Obama and Perry couldn’t handle the glare of prime-time. At the first few debates he was shaky but was given some slack due to being a ‘newbie’ but he continued to struggle and got more inept with each performance. The climax was at the CNBC debate in Michigan, November 2011, where the following happened.
Perry: "It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the, uh, what's the third one there, let's see..."
Ron Paul: "Five, you have five."
Perry: "Oh, five, okay, so Commerce, Education and the ... uh ... uh."
Moderator John Harwood: "EPA?"
Perry: "EPA, there you go."
Harwood: "Seriously, is EPA the one you were talking about?"
Perry: "No sir, no sir. We were talking about agencies of government. EPA needs to be rebuilt. No doubt about that."
Harwood: "But you can't name the third one?"
Perry: "The third agency of government I would do away with, the Education, the uh, Commerce. Let's see. I can't. The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops."
From that ‘oops’ moment he was gone and there was no chance whatsoever of him recovering. Essentially it was the ‘oops’ heard around the world.
People, who don't really follow politics, were reminiscing about that gaffe and he became a laughing stock. (It reminded me about George W. Bush and all the talk of his many gaffes). I think he knew from there, that it was over.
The Texas governor has endorsed Newt Gingrich, calling him a "conservative visionary."
He went further to say:
"Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is there is forgiveness for those who seek God. And I believe in the power of redemption," Perry said. "I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement."
I like the timing of this announcement. He knew there was no chance that he could win South Carolina. By him staying in the race, all he would be doing is siphoning off the conservative vote, which in turn helps Romney in South Carolina. Now voters can chose between Newt Gingrich & Rick Santorum and create a showdown with Romney for the nomination. Truly, he is a 'mentsch'.
What next for Perry?
Well, he will go back to Texas as Governor and rebuild his reputation. He will continue to spur economic growth in ‘the Lone-Star State’ through limited government, lower taxes and less burdensome regulations.
He will of course reflect on what went wrong and learn for the future. He certainly can make a return in four or eight year’s time and will be a major force in the years to come.