If there was a political lesson to be learned today, it was this: Don’t hold a press availability at your opponent’s headquarters.
While Gov. Rick Perry was in China, his campaign spokesman called a curbside press event in front of the office of Travis County Democrats’ coordinated campaign, which serves as the local campaign office for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White and all other Democrats running for office in Travis County.
Mark Miner, Perry’s mouthpiece, stood in the early afternoon’s sweltering heat - in a dark suit nonetheless - to try to talk to members of the Capitol press corps.
But unless you were standing inches from the sweaty Miner, you couldn’t hear anything but the chants of Democratic campaign workers, one of whom donned a chicken outfit.
“Rick Chicken Perry,” they squawked. “Debate Bill now.”
Rick Perry's team only learned that today? They are far, far, far less smart than everyone thinks.
3:07pm - This image says it all. Photo courtesy of Katherine Haenschen, of Burnt Orange Report! (Working on a full slideshow now):
1:58pm - Mark Miner just got thoroughly and sufficiently pwned. I'm working on a recap right now. Will have photos ASAP. There is no way to say how badly that went for Rick Perry's campaign team. They showed up and tried to have a political stunt on the front doors of Bill White's Austin office, and they failed miserably. There is no more excuses -- Rick Perry has to debate.
1:34pm - This is the least successful press conference in the history of political campaigns. Over 60 people with signs, chanting "DEBATE BILL NOW" and "RICK CHICKEN PERRY." So proud to be a Democrat today.
1:30pm - The press conference is preparing to begin.
1:28pm - A chicken costume has now appeared. The crowd chants "RICK CHICKEN PERRY! RICK CHICKEN PERRY! RICK CHICKEN PERRY!"
1:24pm -- Has there ever been a worse idea? Rick Perry's campaign team is overwhelmed as Democrats chant, "DEBATE BILL NOW!"
1:22pm -- The three Rick Perry people look overwhelmed and sheepish. They've been burned, overwhelmed, and out-messaged, and they know it.
1:17PM - Perry's campaign only has 3 people here. There are at least 60 Democratic volunteers holding signs that say "Perry stop hiding", "Where oh where is Governor good hair?", and "$18 Billion Reasons to Debate." Democrats have overwhelmed Rick Perry's press conference.
1:10pm - I'm sitting with State Representative Mark Strama, who will be available to answer questions today. I asked him what he thought about Rick Perry refusing to debate. His response:
"The people of Texas deserve to hear where they are on the issues, and if Rick Perry has something to say about Bill White's successful business career, he can say so in the debate."
--State Representative Mark Strama
1:06pm -- The message for Democrats -- who are gathering now at the headquarters -- is clear: Rick Perry is too chicken to debate Bill White and answer questions about his $18 billion budget deficit. If you want to come by the headquarters, the office is located at 605 W. 13th St.., Austin, Texas.
1:05pm - Rick Perry's campaign team has called a press conference at the Travis County Democratic Party (TCDP) and Bill White Austin headquarters to make up some more excuses about why Rick Perry is too afraid to debate Bill White. I'll be live-blogging from the press conference -- and I'll do my best to update with photos, video, etc. as the event goes on.