Debate newcomer Rick Perry put in a display of two halves, the first strong, the second meandering, the Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza said after the Republican presidential forum at the Ronald Reagan library.
“With all eyes on him, the Texas governor started out strong — delivering a solid answer on jobs and showing a willingness to mix it up with (Mitt) Romney,” wrote Cilliza.
“He was confident without being brash and seemed well versed — or at least well rehearsed — on the issues of the day.
“If the debate ended after 45 minutes, we might be talking about how Perry had dispelled all doubts about his readiness for the national glare of a presidential race and all it entails.”
But after the first three quarters of an hour, Cilliza said Perry “seemed to lose focus,” Cilliza said. He only pulled it back with his strong answer on the death penalty which gained spontaneous applause from the audience.
“His uneven performance will likely keep the conversation about whether he is a clear front-runner alive, which is not what the Perry forces wanted.”
Cilliza’s view was backed up by former John McCain adviser Steve Schmidt. “He was like a boxer who ran out of steam,” said Schmidt on MSNBC, the station that aired the debate.
“He came in as a soft front-runner and he came out a soft front-runner.”
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