Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lackluster performance in his three Republican primary debate appearances has many conservatives scratching their heads, and wondering whether he really is the dream candidate many thought he was two months ago.
Analyzing the results of Saturday’s Florida Straw Poll on “Fox News Sunday,” Fox News senior political contributor Brit Hume said businessman Herman Cain’s victory may not mean very much, and that Perry’s poor showings recently may indicate his campaign is on the verge of “total collapse.”
“Perry really did throw up all over himself in the debate at a time when he needed to raise his game,” Hume said. (RELATED: Hume on Obama: ‘Making a big speech right now is probably the last thing he should do’)
“He did worse, it seems to me, than he had done in previous debates. Romney was as strong as he has been lately. He has clearly raised his game in reaction to the emergence of Perry. It’s been good for Romney in a way that one might not have predicted … Perry is about one-half a step away from almost total collapse as a candidate.”
Later, Hume explained that the Texas governor’s position on immigration may be the most glaring flaw in his candidacy.
“I don’t think we’re being too harsh on Rick Perry,” Hume said. “He still has some opportunity to recover his balance and put in a strong performance. What was so strikingly troubling about — from a Republican point of view — about this performance was that Perry was thought of as a really true conservative. Now it appears he has got this position on immigration which is anathema to a lot of conservatives.
“So this really hurts him with the base. You can’t, you know — look at all the trouble Romney’s had. He’s got some trouble with the base. That’s what’s holding him back. Now Perry has got the same trouble so his weakness is very real indeed.”
“It is still early,” Hume said, ”but what keeps happening here is these people have a moment, and they get in the race as Perry did, [and] zoom to the top. Everybody’s in love, and then we get a dose of them in reality on a debate stage, or wherever, and they don’t seem so great.
“Now I am as impressed as the next person is by Gov. [Chris] Christie’s sort of tough-love governance in New Jersey. But who knows how he would fare on the national stage? He would arrive, you know, freshly minted from a governorship, having not spent all that much time on national issues. If he gets on a debate stage, he could screw up as badly as the next guy.”