December 1999: 'Bush's Winning Glow Dims After Poor Debate Reviews'

Perry hopes there's at least one way he's like George W. Bush

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Rick Perry may have seriously damaged his chances of winning the Republican nomination with his poor debate performance Thursday. But NBC News' First Read notes that debate winners are not always primary winners -- Hillary Clinton, for example. Another bit of evidence? This headline from the Los Angeles Times on Deceber 9, 1999: "Bush's Winning Glow Dims After Poor Debate Reviews."

Reviewing then-Gov. George W. Bush's performance, Mark Z. Barabak wrote:
After his less-than-commanding performance in two presidential debates, George W. Bush faces a tougher race than expected amid growing signs of Republican discontent...
(Establishment conservatives Paul Gigot and Bill Kristol are again urging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to run.)
... including a new poll that shows major slippage in the key primary state of New Hampshire.
(Romney is trouncing Perry in New Hampshire, a recent poll shows.)
For Bush, more troublesome than sagging poll numbers may be his failure to dispel questions about his intellect and preparedness for the White House. To many, Bush came across in the debates as uncertain, propped up by rehearsed responses and a series of stilted talking points.
(Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol: "But no front-runner in a presidential field has ever, we imagine, had as weak a showing as Rick Perry. It was close to a disqualifying two hours for him."
ABC News' Michael Falcone: "However, Perry does have to worry that as a relatively unknown candidate these debates are going to start to define him in the exact opposite way than he is trying to portray himself. In real life, Perry projects a swagger and a confidence. On stage, he looks unsure and small."
Politico, August 29: Is Rick Perry Dumb?")
"He gets the deer-in-the-headlight look that Quayle used to get," said Fred Davis, a GOP media strategist and former [Dan] Quayle advisor, who feels both men are smarter and more appealing than their critics suggest. "You almost see his brain trying to remember what he was told, and Quayle came across that way."
(The Atlantic Wire: "You can actually see Perry trying to remember his lines at 0:32.")
Perry has been trying to distinguish himself from Bush, after he's been called "Bush on steroids." But in this instance, Perry surely hopes they have something in common.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.