Report: Rick Perry used painkillers to help him get through debates

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry was under the influence of painkillers during televised presidential debates over the last year to help relieve severe back pain, according to a soon-to-be released eBook on the 2012 Republican race for president obtained by The Daily Caller.

“It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates,” write the authors of “Inside the Circus.”

A source provided TheDC with an advance copy of the eBook, authored by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas. The book comes out Tuesday.

The authors imply that the painkillers may have led to a humorous incident before an October debate in New Hampshire when the “manager of a rival campaign” overheard Perry belting out the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” while in the bathroom.

“Wondering who was making all the noise, the campaign manager turned his head and saw, to his surprise, the governor of Texas,” the book states. “Perry came down the row of about twenty urinals and stood companionably close by.

Allen and Thomas continue: “Nonplussed, the campaign manager made a hasty exit; as the bathroom door closed, he could hear Perry still merrily singing away: “I-I-I’ve been working on the ra-a-i-i-l-road, all-l-l the live-long day . . .”

Perry’s weak debate performances are an enduring memory of his short run for president.

He admitted to the Des Moines Register that his back problems — he had surgery in July — hindered his debate performances.

“I think part of the reason you have seen a somewhat different candidate on the debates is my health, and (I’m) both physically and mentally just back in the game,” he said in December. “You have fusion on your back, and it takes you a while to get back on your game.”

Rumors of Perry using painkillers on the campaign trail have been reported before. After after a lively and much-lampooned speech at the Cornerstone Action Dinner in Manchester, N.H. in November, he was forced to deny having been on medication.

UPDATE: Ray Sullivan, Perry’s former campaign communications director, responded to the report by saying, “POLITICO’s e-book is a low in irresponsible, unsourced and unfounded ‘reporting,’ with anonymous untruths about Gov. Perry’s debate performances.”

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