Gov. Rick Perry of Texas struggled through his first three debates, so his aides have staged practice sessions, complete with a stand-in for Mitt Romney. He has stirred outrage among conservatives on immigration, so he is defending his stance on the campaign trail as good economics.
And as he prepares for two more debates in the next nine days, along with his first major policy address, his advisers have devised another way to help: requiring Mr. Perry to get more sleep.
After weeks in which he has stirred doubts about his abilities as a candidate, Mr. Perry is re-examining his campaign — and himself — in an effort to correct his shortcomings of style and substance so he can capitalize on his strengths, including the $15 million he has in the bank and what he points to as a record of job creation in Texas.
“He seems uncomfortable on the stage,” said Sam Clovis, a conservative radio host in Sioux City who had a more favorable impression of Mr. Perry after shaking his hand during a weekend campaign stop here. “He’s going to have to get much, much better.”
The transition to being a presidential candidate has been harder than Mr. Perry expected, according to several aides and friends, who said he knew he needed to improve. His wife, Anita, who said last month that he would be “better prepared” in debates, accompanied him to Iowa. She jumped into the conversation at one point to make a point when he was pressed on immigration.