The best thing that can be said about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s economic plan and its Tuesday rollout speech is that before now, he didn’t have a plan, and now he does. He can check that box. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, and, as a good Republican, I support everything he said. The problem is, we have supported it all before. Our voters want and appreciate creativity. This didn’t offer much in the way of anything new. This program is Steve Forbes-lite. But it is what it is. Now he has to stick with it. “Cut, Balance, and Grow” is a good slogan, but this plan will only be a net plus for Perry if, over the next few weeks, he can recall and defend the details on live TV with smart, semi-hostile reporters asking the questions.

From behind the podium, Perry looks great. He looks so much like a Hollywood-produced president, he makes Mitt Romney look grunge. But Perry’s speaking style Tuesday was not reassuring. He appeared to wander at times, and he had the occasional aside that didn’t fit the speech very well. I couldn’t tell if he was using a teleprompter. If he wasn’t, he needs one. If he was, he needs to practice with it.

To state the obvious, the number-one theme in the campaign has got to be the economy. Every candidate has got to have a plan, know it by heart, and keep repeating it. If you can’t do it now, it’s almost too late.

Let me channel Lee Atwater for a moment. If Lee were a Perry campaign advisor, he would be thinking, “our biggest problem is that Romney’s negatives are too low. Let’s get his unfavorables up to around 45 percent and see how Romney’s doing then. Let’s get this campaign down in the gutter where it belongs. Keep our candidate on-message with the economic bromides, while we take the hatchet to good ole’ Mitt for a few weeks.”