Editorials From Across the State: Rick Perry Should Debate

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Today is Day 122 of Rick Perry refusing to debate. And while Rick Perry's spokesperson Mark Miner has tried to steal that line from me, remember – they earned a “Pants on Fire” rating from PolitiFact Texas for trying to flip that claim around and pin it on Bill White. Ever since the Rick “Chicken” Perry campaign hosted a Bill White press conference, the Perry campaign has been on the losing side of this issue.

Dave McNeely, a long-time Texas political observer and columnist, writes: “We'll see if Perry's strategy of not debating White works” —

Perry has assumed he can ignore the newspapers, whose stories usually run just one time. If he wants publicity, he’ll buy it in slick TV ads that run dozens of times, and fly around the state for carefully staged and controlled photo ops.

That’s particularly so since a Miner news conference several months ago to blast White’s ethics, in front of White’s Austin campaign headquarters, was co-opted by Democrats. The TV news cameras featured the raucous Democrats, including one in a rather large chicken suit, underlining Perry’s refusal to debate.

Since then, Perry’s People are guarding him almost more tightly than the state troopers who shadow him everywhere.

Meanwhile, there's been lots of pointless hand-wringing about how the Back to Basics “Coward” ad was somehow to mean, or nasty, or negative to Rick Perry. As if Rick “Adios Mofo” Perry can't handle a newspaper ad, and as if their entire campaign hasn't lived in the gutter for months. Democrats throw a single punch and — WAAAAA!!! — the Perry campaign cries fowl. The fact is that the ad simply echoed what many across the state are saying: it is past time for Rick Perry to saddle up and debate Bill White.

People from across the state of Texas are calling for a debate. If Rick Perry wants to play chicken with Bill White on this issue, he can. But I promise you — he's gonna lose even quicker if he does.

The following is a list of editorials calling on Rick Perry to debate, as provided in a press release I received yesterday from the Back to Basics PAC:

1.   Larry Blackerby: Perry Should Debate Bill White
(KPRC Houston; August 10, 2010)

“It's time for Gov. Rick Perry to drop the political smoke screens and make himself available to debate Bill White…Shame on you, Governor Perry, for putting politics first, over the people you say you want to represent.”

2.    Editorial: Perry needs to face opponents
(San Antonio Express News; June 10, 2010)

“Perry apparently thinks this is a sound campaign strategy. Texans have good reason to wonder why a person seeking to hold the state's highest office won't face his opponents or take questions from the public and the media.”

3.    Editorial: Hey, you two, let's debate
(Amarillo Globe-News; August 9, 2010)

“Instead, the governor's campaign is obstructing efforts to have the two men meet face to face. Texans would be disserved badly if they don't get a chance to watch these men take each other's measure.”

4.    Editorial: Texas governor Perry shouldn't duck debates
(Austin American-Statesman; June 18, 2010)

“The debates, we believe, belong to the people — not to the governor nor any candidate.”

5.    Editorial: Perry shortchanges voters by refusing to debate
(Dallas Morning News; August 16, 2010)

“While ducking debates might be a defensible political strategy, ultimately, it's lousy leadership. Perry is seeking an unprecedented 14 years in the state's highest office, and Texans deserve the chance to hear more details about his plans for the next four years. A steady stream of canned stump speeches delivered to partisan crowds won't suffice.”

6.    Editorial: Perry's decision to bypass editorial boards disappointing
(Midland Reporter-Telegram; August 18, 2010)

“It is with great disappointment that we learned Texas Gov. Rick Perry again will bypass talking with the editorial boards across the state as he campaigns for a third full term.”

7.    Editorial: Gov. Perry should answer White's challenge by debating him and facing editorial boards.
(Beaumont Enterprise; August 24, 2010)

“Any major candidate should have the confidence and gumption to handle tough questions. How about it, governor? Will you man up and wade into the political arena, or remain in the shadows?”

8.    Editorial: Perry owes it to Texans to debate White
(The Eagle, Bryan-College Station)

“What is he hiding from the people he was elected to serve? It's fine to speak to groups of supporters. His ego certainly gets a boost.
But he is governor of all Texans and answerable not only to those who love him, but to the rest who aren't sure.
Perry might not like the questions asked and the issues raised in public debates. That's too bad. If he wants to keep his job, he needs to let Texans raise them. “

9.    Editorial: Gov. Perry must agree to debate Bill White even if he doesn't meet all of his conditions
(Beaumont Enterprise; August 12, 2010)

“In the end, a candidate's main duty is participating in a debate, not setting the terms for it.”

10.    Editorial: Bob Krueger: No more Hiding.
(San Angelo Standard-Times; August 24, 2010)

“Texans don’t have anointed emperors; we have elected governors, accountable to the people who elect them. Refusal to meet before press and public in open debate suggests that an officeholder is a “face man” — all show and no substance, unwilling to stand accountable for his opinions and actions.”


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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