This Week in Campaign Fail

Rick Perry vs. the media

Rick Perry: Stops counting before he reaches the fourth estate
Rick Perry: Stops counting before he reaches the fourth estate

Think this election cycle was supposed to be about Gov. Rick Perry versus former Houston mayor Bill White? Guess again. It's become Perry versus the whole damn Capitol press corps.

It was bad enough for Perry that the editorial boards of several papers (including the Dallas Morning News and the Amarillo Globe-News) have been critical of his decision to avoid debates. The situation got worse when Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune called his evasiveness "crap." Now Larry Blackerby, general manager of NBC-affiliate KPRC, has issued a video editorial demanding that Perry "drop the political smoke screen."

So what's Perry's response to this? According to what his campaign manager Mark Miner (yeah, he of the chicken dance press conference) told the Austin-American Statesman, he won't be meeting with any editorial boards this election.

Instead, Miner claimed, he'll be meeting directly with reporters at events, as well as taking his message directly to the people of Texas. Unfortunately, Perry has a pretty poor reputation for getting in contact with the press (there's a joke that his press office is really an answering machine and a random press-release generator.) Take the experience of Scott Stroud at the San Antonio Express-News: After four months of waiting, the promised one-on-one interview never materialized, and instead Perry held court over lunch with a bunch of invited friends while he rambled about growing up in Paint Creek.

Hardly incisive policy stuff. Bill White for Texas spokesperson Katy Bacon said, "He's doing backflips to try to avoid debate because he doesn't want to account for his record. … He doesn't want to account for the $18 billion budget deficit, he doesn't want to account for the abuse of state government as a personal political re-election machine, and outlets all over the state are calling him out on it."

As editor Eileen Smith put it, "So for all you newspaper readers out there, just remember. Perry thinks you’re a waste of time."

Oh, that is, of course, unless he wants to use the papers to carry his water on yet another baseless accusation against White ("He's a hurricane profiteer! He's race-baiting!")

Of course, the question is when exactly he's supposed to be doing all this talking directly to the people. White's campaign got hold of Perry's 2009 schedule, and Governor Good Hair makes his brush-clearing predecessor in the mansion, George "The dubya stands for vvacation" Bush look like a workaholic.

Days off: 66
Long weekends: 27
Four-day weekend: 10
Average work week: 11.4 hours
Actually, this isn't a shocker. Perry has been ignoring the press and those pesky reading types for years. Take his strategy in the 2006 election: Pretend there wasn't an election. He basically sat that cycle out, refused to engage Democrat Chris Bell, watched the press obsess over the Kinky Friedman/Carole Keeton Strayhorn freakshow/sideshow, and then limped home to the mansion with 39%.

Now he's trying to do the same in 2010, but there are two differences. One, there's no third or fourth candidate that can distract the press in the same way; Two, odds are that this time, 39% buys you a ticket to College Station.

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Elections, Rick Perry, Bill White, Dirty Tricks, Eileen Smith, Texas Monthly, Part-Time Perry, Mark Miner

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