Appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s show last night Governor Rick Perry was critical of the presidential debates, which isn’t surprising given that he’s performed poorly in them for the most part (pertinent video starts around 8:33):
Now Perry’s campaign is hinting that the governor may be skipping future debates:
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the issue is using time wisely, and noted their campaign is not alone in that.
“I think all the campaigns are expressing frustration right now,” Miner told POLITICO. “We said we would do Michigan but the primaries are around the corner and you have to use your time accordingly.”
Perry’s criticism is that the debates are more medial spectacles than substantive, well, debates. And he’s got a point. The debates are often gimmicky, with the media and moderators all but treating it like an episode of a reality show in trying to bait the candidates into attacking one another and throw out tabloidy soundbites. The back and forth between the judges on Dancing with the Stars is often more meaningful, quite frankly.
But as a practical political matter, how can a candidate like Perry afford to skip the debates? Like them or not, the public tunes in to them like no other event during these primary races. There is an intense amount of media scrutiny on them, and while the debates can be perilous in that a poor performance can be a major set back to a campaign (something Perry should be familiar with by now), bad media coverage from a debate is better than no media attention at all because you’re not attending, isn’t it?