When a candidate swoops down and expects to win the nomination without any preparation or strategy, you get the Rick Perry campaign. An attractive candidate on paper, someone who seemed to solve the dilemma of how to find a nominee more conservative than Mitt Romney and more viable in the general election than Michele Bachmann and company, Perry’s early debate flubs made him seem both less electable and less conservative.
Perry seemed to attack conservatives who disagreed with him on the issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, to whom he even more frequently seemed to have an inferior grasp of the English language. For every amusing “I’ll bump plans with you brother” moment, there was a disaster like his inability to name the three federal departments he would shut down.
From begining to end, it was clear that the Perry camp didn’t take the debates seriously enough. Based on the squabbling that leaked out to the press, it seems that some people were more attracted to that campaign by the money than the candidate. At times Perry’s team appeared divided between people who were loyal to him but didn’t know how to run a national, as opposed to statewide, campaign and those with a better feel for national politics who were less invested in Perry personally. The end result was that the Texas governor who once looked like the likely Republican nominee ended up underperforming Fred Thompson at every juncture.