Rick Perry: Stakes are high
Late last week, we asked the world of Quora — a very cool question and answer site — which of the eight candidates had the most to lose in tonight’s economic focused debate sponsored by the Washington Post and Bloomberg News.
The answer from Matt McDonald, a friend of the Fix and Republican consultant, was Texas Gov. Rick Perry and it’s the right one.
McDonald laid out three basic reasons for his pick of Perry: 1) Perry’s struggled in debates so far. 2) He hasn’t released a detailed economic plan. 3) He might not be comfortable discussing specifics about the economy.
Of the three, we see the third point made by McDonald as the most potentially problematic for Perry.
This debate is being co-sponsored by Bloomberg, which almost certainly means there will be a question or two about detailed economic policy in the country.
Perry has, so far, avoided talking in specifics about the country’s economy — choosing instead to focus almost exclusively on his job-creation record in Texas.
If he moves beyond talking about Texas, it’s typically to condemn President Obama for believing that higher taxes and more government are the solution to our economic maladies.
In this debate, those twin talking points most likely won’t be enough. Perry will be pushed to explain specifically how he would make the national economy better and what, again specifically, he disagrees with in the approach advocated by Obama and his Republican rivals.
And Perry starts at a point of relative weakness on the issue with Republican voters. In a Washington Post-Bloomberg News poll just 12 percent said Perry would do the most to improve the economy, well behind the 22 percent who said the same of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the 20 percent who said it of businessman Herman Cain.
For Perry then his ability to sound and actually be smart on the economy is directly tied to his growing electability issues. To convince his doubters that he is up to the task of facing down President Obama next fall, Perry has to show viewers that he not only knows what ails the economy but also how to fix it.