Perry debate performance lacks time, punch, specifics

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 11:03 PM

Republican presidential candidates took aim at each other during a New Hampshire debate Tuesday night, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry was far more quiet than in previous face-offs.

A self-described "piñata" in his first debate that he entered as the front-runner, Perry was left hanging with less attention this time around.

The debate topic was the economy and jobs. Perry said he has a plan, but said he's not releasing it yet.

"Initially, we're going to be focused on the energy industry in this country," he said.

With Perry slouching in polls, more face time went to Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, who talked extensively about his "9-9-9" tax and economic plan.

Perry didn't speak again for roughly 30 minutes.

Eventually, the Texas governor attacked Cain's plan. "I don't need 9-9-9... we don't need any plan to pass Congress," Perry said. "We need to get a president of the United States that is committed to passing the types of regulations, pulling the regulations back."

Given the chance to question Romney about the Massachusetts health care law similar to the federal law Republicans deride as "Obamacare," Romney turned the issue back on Perry. The former Massachusetts governor said his state set out to solve a problem.

"We have the lowest number of kids as a percentage uninsured of any state in America," Romney said to Perry, adding: "You have the highest."

When Perry attempted to interrupt, Romney would not let him.

"I'm still speaking, I'm still speaking!" Romney said.

Perry criticized the federal government loaning and losing money to Solyndra, a now-bankrupt solar energy start up in California. But he was asked how the Texas Enterprise and Emerging Technology Funds — that give money to companies and have been criticized for inadequate oversight — are any different.

"There's extraordinary amount of oversight in those programs," the Texas governor asserted.

Perry needed a strong performance Tuesday to reset his campaign. He likely didn't get the time or punch to reach that goal.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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