“Mr. Perry has had two okay-to-mediocre debate performances, with the second regarded as weaker. This is dangerous, since much of his support is based on what people believe him to be rather than what they know him to be.

“Mr. Perry would therefore be wise to continue pivoting away from arguing that Social Security should be turned over to the states and instead make a compelling case, as he started to do in the last debate, for its reform. More importantly, Mr. Perry needs to change the dynamic of the debates, in which he’s been (in his words) the piñata.

“Just as Mr. Romney has put Mr. Perry on defense on Social Security, Mr. Perry must put Mr. Romney on defense over health care.”

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“‘We don’t need to nominate Obama lite. We don’t need to nominate someone who is going to blur the lines between President Obama and our nominee,’ Perry said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s ‘Hannity.’…

“‘I think it’s important that we have a clear distinction between any of the candidates,’ Perry said, ‘and when you take a look at what Mitt did from the standpoint of Romneycare in Massachusetts, you’re going to have a hard time finding a difference between Obamacare and Romneycare. That’s just the facts and there’s no way around it. The facts are the facts.’…

“‘That’s the old tactic that the Democrats used back through the years to try to scare the senior citizens,’ Perry said. ‘If anyone on that stage that’s a Republican and wants to be a Republican nominee is trying to scare our seniors with this issue – that somehow or another I’m going to do away with Social Security, that’s just not appropriate. It’s irresponsible.'”

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