Perry: I was just having a good time in New Hampshire

posted at 12:45 pm on November 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Rick Perry offered a response to criticism and speculation of a recent appearance in New Hampshire that he had been “silly” or possibly under the influence of alcohol or medication. National Journal captures his relaxed defense, asking them to check in with Dan Balz of the Washington Post, who had reported on Perry’s “loose and playful” appearance:

Hours after several well-known political pundits commented publicly on his “odd” behavior at a New Hampshire banquet last week, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday shrugged off the buzz surrounding a video of the event that has gone viral.

“I would always tell people to go back and ask Dan Balz,” Perry told reporters at a campaign stop, referring to a weekend column in which the veteran Washington Post reporter described Perry as “loose, extremely animated, and even playful” when he spoke on Friday to a banquet of conservative activists in Manchester, N.H. “This was a great crowd, good response, and I guess you can do anything you want with a video and make it look any way you want, but it felt good, felt great,” Perry said. “I felt the message got across very well.”

The performance got distinctly different reviews on Tuesday morning at National Journal’s Election Preview. Two veteran political strategists suggested that Perry was under the influence. The Texas governor’s ebullient performance was “not presidential,” said Democratic consultant Steve McMahon, adding, “Perhaps he had been drinking.” Republican Charlie Black, who advised former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, agreed that Perry’s behavior was “odd.” Noting that Perry has had back surgery, Black added: “Maybe it was back medicine that he had too much of.”

How did Balz report it?  There isn’t any indication of a problem in Perry’s demeanor, and reported that the audience didn’t seem to have a problem with it, either:

Perry took the stage at a downtown hotel ballroom in Manchester. He appeared to feel totally at home, more so than in many other settings during the campaign. He was loose and extremely animated, even playful. …

He extolled the virtues of freedom, saying that single word sums up his presidential campaign. He promoted his new economic plan that includes a flat tax with a 20 percent income tax rate for individuals and, with a dramatic flourish, pulled a postcard-size paper from his pocket to illustrate how simple the filing form would be for most taxpayers.

He talked about his upbringing in rural Texas and the values that were instilled in him there. He highlighted his credentials as a strong opponent of abortion. “The bottom line is this, if you want to stop Washington’s many violations of the 10th Amendment, especially when it comes to the most basic principle of protecting life, then we must make President Obama a one-term president. We must!”

The audience gave him a standing ovation.

In fact, Balz wrote that the contrast in styles between Mitt Romney and Perry that day highlighted their style differences, and that New Hampshire voters might keep those in mind, which in the context of the article indicated that Perry would have the better of that contrast.

The Perry speech will probably become a Rohrschach test that indicates whether one supports or opposes him.  I finally watched it today, and my sense is that Perry is trying to reboot himself from an image of a bully in the previous debates to someone whose warmth and humor comes across as primary parts of his personality.  It’s possible to overdo that, certainly, and most people don’t want a comedian for President, which is why “not Presidential” might very well be a fair criticism.  I didn’t see anything that indicated Perry looked drunk or medicated; he had a similar sense of showmanship in 2010 when addressing the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.  There is room for criticism in how much he might overdo the folksiness, but he’s not slurring his words or incoherent in the speech.

Finally, Perry had a word for the media on their pursuit of the story about Cain and alleged improprieties:

“Until things go past allegation to fact, I just try to leave them alone,” Perry said.

From what I see so far, the rest of the Republican field seems similarly inclined — except for Michele Bachmann:

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann says her party can’t have a nominee with “surprises” in his record, a jab at rival Herman Cain as he defends himself against allegations of sexual harassment.

The congresswoman from Minnesota told a meeting of Baptists in Iowa on Tuesday night that the GOP needs to have a candidate the party can trust.

Standing in the pulpit of a Marshalltown church, she told supporters, in her words, “This is the year when we can’t have any surprises with our candidate.”

She’s competing for the same Tea Party voters as Cain has attracted, so the attack makes some sense — but I doubt this will endear her to fellow conservatives.

Update: I think Allahpundit noted this in an earlier post, but it’s worth repeating:

“I can tell you unequivocally he wasn’t drinking at the event and he hadn’t been drinking prior to the event,” said Kevin Smith, the executive director of Cornerstone Action, the conservative group that hosted the event over the weekend. “I was sitting with him, and I found him to be very engaging with all of the people he was talking with, he was very articulate.”

Smith, who has not endorsed any candidate, said that Perry drank “only water” at the event and that his speech was well-received by the audience. Smith spent much of the time before the speech with Perry, including dining with him at the event’s head table beforehand.

“When I started seeing all of the blog stuff going up on Sunday and the video going viral it caught me by surprise,” said Smith. “He was definitely more animated than we’ve seen him during the campaign but the reports that he was buzzed or whatever never crossed any of our minds.”

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Comment pages: 1 2

Come on, kim, I expect better from you.

So Perry’s actions while in office is fair game but because Cain has no political record, we can’t question anything he did in his business life? /baffled

If he indeed “sexually harassed” those women, don’t you think we are entitled to know before promoting him to the White House with its bevy of ‘beautiful’ interns?

:)

TheRightMan on November 2, 2011 at 2:11 PM

We don’t know what happened do we? That’s my point. WE. DON’T. KNOW.

But you go ahead and speculate on innuendo and misinformation and walk away only based on that. The LSM and DNC thank you for your compliance.

When we do inevitably find out, we’ll have this chat again.

In the meantime, why don’t you spend your time with his nonposition on abortion and trying to parse his words about China?

kim roy on November 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

It was a claim.

And the NRA took it serious enough to pay the claimants off.

They didn’t fire them for making unsubstantiated claims…they paid them off. Which leads me to believe that there was something going on.

There was more than one woman…were both claims filed at the same time? Both found to a be ‘nuisance’? Come on….

Harassment, not matter what kind is unacceptable in the workplace.

If Cain is guilty…he should accept responsibility for his actions and move on…sooner rather than later.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Apparently you have led a sheltered life. That isn’t the way it works in the real world. Nuisance claims or suits are routinely paid off if it is cheaper than fighting them, even if the claim is not valid. Workplace harassment claims are a cash cow for unscrupulous employees.

a capella on November 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

You’ve never worked in business, insurance or in a legal office, have you?

Google “nuisance claims” and get back to us.

kim roy on November 2, 2011 at 2:02 PM

What difference does it make whether it was a ‘nuisance claim’ or not?

It was a claim.

And the NRA took it serious enough to pay the claimants off.

They didn’t fire them for making unsubstantiated claims…they paid them off. Which leads me to believe that there was something going on.

There was more than one woman…were both claims filed at the same time? Both found to a be ‘nuisance’? Come on….

Harassment, not matter what kind is unacceptable in the workplace.

If Cain is guilty…he should accept responsibility for his actions and move on…sooner rather than later.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 2:31 PM

You obviously didn’t Google like I suggested.

kim roy on November 2, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Workplace harassment claims are a cash cow for unscrupulous employees.

a capella on November 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

So now you know that these women were “unscrupulous employees”?

And you surmised that how?

I believe I’d hold off for more information before I attacked those women…that could backfire on you very quickly.

The fact that money changed hands should tell you something.

The fact that Cain ‘couldn’t remember’ anything about it…should tell you something.

The fact that there was more than one woman should tell you something.

The fact that Cain’s story has changed numerous times should tell you something.

The fact that we’re even having this discussion should tell you something.

But then…if you’re desperate to give cover to Cain…maybe not.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Apparently you have led a sheltered life. That isn’t the way it works in the real world. Nuisance claims or suits are routinely paid off if it is cheaper than fighting them, even if the claim is not valid. Workplace harassment claims are a cash cow for unscrupulous employees.
a capella on November 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Some crooks make a pretty good living off of them. e.g. the slip and fall artists.

whatcat on November 2, 2011 at 3:46 PM

You obviously didn’t Google like I suggested.

kim roy on November 2, 2011 at 3:36 PM

And you obviously can’t rebut any of my arguments.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 3:49 PM

monique on November 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Why are you judging Cain when there is no verdict or even evidence for that matter?

csdeven on November 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

I read that Santorum is also dipping his toe into the waters re capitalizing on the allegations against Cain. From CBS News:

The candidate who has come closest to directly criticizing Cain directly over the story is Rick Santorum. Asked about the situation Wednesday morning, Santorum said, “I don’t have any comment, I think like everybody else I just wait and see how this all plays out,” adding that “we’re still in the middle of the story.”

But on Monday, Santorum responded to CBS News and National Journal’s Rodney Hawkins’ question about the story this way: “My feeling is that you’re going through a political process, one of things you want to make sure is that you have candidates that have been through it.”

“Whether it is on public policy issues and being able to deal [with] questions on complex public policy issues to things that are in the person’s background, you want someone who is running for president of the United States who can stand up to that and has been through that process before,” he added.

And on Tuesday at a National Journal forum, Santorum’s campaign manager criticized Cain for his evolving story about what took place and said Cain’s campaign needs to be “forthcoming so that you are vetted.”

Y-not on November 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Perry leaked the Cain story.

Pollster Chris Wilson said he witnessed harassment by Cain.

Chris Wilson is involved with the Perry campaign and has run numerous Iowa polls for him.

Save a pretzel for the gas jets!

tetriskid on November 2, 2011 at 1:02 PM

In case no one else has said it, since I haven’t read all the comments yet;
You are full of it.

Susanboo on November 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Why are you judging Cain when there is no verdict or even evidence for that matter?

csdeven on November 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

I’m not judging anyone.

I’m sorry I can’t say the same about those of you who have indicted Romney and Perry as being the source of the ‘leak’…with absolutely no evidence.

And judging the women who filed complaints against Cain to be ‘unscrupulous employees’…again with absolutely no evidence.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 4:06 PM

But then…if you’re desperate to give cover to Cain…maybe not.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Naw, I’m nestled comfortably in Newt’s bosum. The fact money exchanged hands means nothing, although you point to it as credible evidence.
I’ve pointed out before that Cain hasn’t handled himself well on this or several other issues. I think it has more to do with his ego and confidence he can talk his way out of anything on the spur of the moment because he is a professional speaker. As with most other well intended social regulation by government, workplace harassment complaints have become a tremendous blackmail weapon and are abused and paid off daily, regardless of validity.

a capella on November 2, 2011 at 4:07 PM

monique on November 2, 2011 at 4:06 PM

You keep saying there must be something to this because we are talking about it. That is as irresponsible as what you are criticizing.

csdeven on November 2, 2011 at 4:16 PM

And judging the women who filed complaints against Cain to be ‘unscrupulous employees’…again with absolutely no evidence.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Excuse me? This is what I said. I made no reference in that sentence to any individual. Dial back a bit on the hysteria, would ya?

Workplace harassment claims are a cash cow for unscrupulous employees.
a capella on November 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

a capella on November 2, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Naw, I’m nestled comfortably in Newt’s bosum.

a capella on November 2, 2011 at 4:07 PM

If you’re a Newt supporter…you can rest assured that you’re in a better position than those who would discard harassment claims as racist.

That is the most ridiculous assertion of the day.

I’ll believe nothing happened when the women involved say that nothing happened…or at least until the formal complaints, with the legal determinations are made public.

Until then, I’m in a wait and see mode.

Speaking of Newt…I just read an article that puts into question his ‘visit to his terminally ill wife on her deathbed to tell her he wanted a divorce’ story…written by his daughter.

I like Newt…during the debates he seemed to be the only adult in the room…brilliant man.

Whether he can win or not is still up in the air.

monique on November 2, 2011 at 4:21 PM

haha, he is a drunk. I thought he just got tongue tied at the third debate, and looked kind of stoned at the other one but this is a flaming red flag.

DanaSmiles on November 2, 2011 at 1:24 PM

This site has gotten worse than the Huffington Post. What a bunch of low-life comments. How this group is ever going to come together and vote for a single candidate against Obama is beyond me. The Democrats may be idiots, but at least they don’t cannabilize their own.

Susanboo on November 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM

How did Balz report it? There isn’t any indication of a problem in Perry’s demeanor, and reported that the audience didn’t seem to have a problem with it, either:

Brit Hume referenced this as well on GVS show and Greta immediately said that Mara Larasson said the same thing about the infamous Dean video, that she was in the audience and it didn’t seem strange, everyone in the room loved it etc……

There is room for criticism in how much he might overdo the folksiness, but he’s not slurring his words or incoherent in the speech.

True but it’s not overdone folksisness either. He definitely is acting strange…the effeminate behavior, the over smiling, the hand gestures…it’s strange, loopey.

sheryl on November 2, 2011 at 7:11 PM

It was a great speech. Here’s the FULL 25 minute speech. He was great!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TtsjT70eME

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on November 2, 2011 at 8:01 PM

I watched the speech. Nothing wrong with it. This whole “drunk or high” meme is a construct of the left-wing media, or opposing campaigns.

I’m not a Perry supporter, but this entire issue seems like bullsh!t to me.

jaime on November 2, 2011 at 10:41 PM

Typical lib media crap…. AND THE ELITE GOP is buying it…. sure… let’s call a Southern conservative white guy a drunk …. and a conservative Black man a skirt chaser!!! GROW UP PEOPLE

charmingtail on November 3, 2011 at 3:53 PM

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