Manchester, N.H. — Later today, Fox News will announce the final roster of candidates for Thursday’s first Republican presidential debate. And it appears Rick Perry will be the first man out, narrowly missing the cut.
The last time Perry ran for president, a poor debate performance marked the beginning of the end of his campaign. But Perry told National Review that he doesn’t think he needs another debate appearance to earn redemption for his infamous “oops” moment.
“I think my redemption’s way, way past,” he said after a roundtable with small business owners in Salem yesterday. “Americans are about second chances. People have seen me perform now for the last two years either on TV or in real life. So you know the debate stage gives me an opportunity to remind people of everything we’ve done.”
Perry actually got a second chance later last night to answer the question that stumped him in 2011 — about what federal government agencies he would cut — here at the Voters First Forum. He acquitted himself well, though he did not quite answer the question.
Both Perry and his campaign declined to speak specifically about how he was preparing for the debate. But earlier yesterday Perry told NR that the prep “has been going on for years.”
#related#”One of the things I learned in 2011 was that just because you’re governor of Texas doesn’t mean that you have the broad area of expertise in monetary policy and foreign policy, domestic policy that you’re gonna need to stand on the stage and project that knowledge and that confidence,” he said. “So this has been a long process for me, and you know I worked on the debate side of things as well, [on] being able to pivot to the story you want to discuss. So I feel I actually look forward to it.”
A new round of polls came out this morning with Perry solidly in eleventh place, narrowly missing the top-ten cutoff for inclusion in the main debate. He’ll almost certainly have to settle for the “consolation-prize” debate, to be held several hours earlier on Thursday with the other GOP hopefuls on the outside of the polls looking in. But whatever stage he ends up on, Perry is quick to urge patience.
“The campaign’s not just about one debate,” he says. “It’s a long game.”
— Alexis Levinson is the senior political reporter for National Review.