What is Perry scared of? White or just himself?
Some of the reasons:
• They don’t want to chance making a mistake.
• Their record can be questioned; they’d prefer not to
help with that.
• They don’t want to share someone with lesser name ID
• They don’t want to share their limelight with someone with lesser name ID who is trying to beat them.
• There’s always the possibility the challenger – in this case, a smart attorney, businessman and popular former mayor of Texas’ largest city -- might win the debate, and make the incumbent seem goofy, ill-informed, or wrong-headed.
And so it goes with Republican Gov. Perry, who has repeatedly refused debate challenges from his Democratic challenger, former Houston Mayor Bill White. Won’t agree to a debate, that is, until White discloses all his tax returns from the time he was deputy secretary of energy in from 1993 into 1995, and while chairman of the Texas Democratic Party from 1995 to 1998.
White says he’s made public his tax returns from the six years he was Houston’s mayor, and responded to every request from journalists about his sources and amounts of income and taxes paid in earlier years. He says that’s enough.
Why White doesn’t just call Perry’s bluff and go ahead and release them is somewhat puzzling. Onlookers might assume there are things White doesn’t want people to know about. He would be better off to put a halt to that speculation, despite the potential consequences.
But Team White’s repeated calls for debates may finally be getting to Team Perry. Mark Miner, Perry’s attack dog, charged in an Aug. 18 news release that “Today is day 164 of liberal trial lawyer Bill White refusing to debate.” Miner also again charged that White “continues to refuse to release his taxes from his years in public service.”
Without saying that Miner’s absurd attempt to turn the debate tables on White had given attackdoggery a bad name, Clara O’Rourke of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitifactTexas, said a truth test of Miner’s statement rated a “Pants on Fire” – designation (as in, “Liar, Liar.”)
Because Perry is also stiffing requests to meet with newspaper editorial boards for questions, White’s campaign asked, “What’s next, Perry says editorial boards refuse to meet with him?”
Perry ducked editorial boards during his primary battle with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison – perhaps expecting the newspapers would endorse her anyway, which all the major ones did. He beat her nonetheless.
So the guy who will be governor for 10 years in December –two more than any previous Texas governor – wants people to elect him for another four-year term, even while stonewalling debate and editorial board invitations.
That earned Perry a “Coward” designation from one group.
A pro-White – or anti-Perry -- political action committee, calling itself Back to Basics, and mostly funded by a wealthy Houston plaintiff’s attorney, bought full-page ads in 24 Texas newspapers Tuesday, Aug. 24, beneath a grainy black and white grim-faced photo of Perry.
He is ducking, the ad charges, “Because Rick Perry is afraid to stand up, face Texans like you, and defend his miserable record.”
It goes on to attack his record on energy, the environment, children’s education and health, the Texas economy, unemployment taxes, a predicted $18 billion budget hole, and so on, all while the Perry family is living in a “fancy, taxpayer-funded $10,000 per month rental mansion.”
Perry’s hiding in plain sight is a calculated risk. Team Perry is assuming Texas is so red that the Republican Primary winner has a lay-down hand in November. Perry’s won every statewide race he’s run since his first in 1990.
Perry’s handlers obviously don’t want him out where someone can ask him an unscripted question.
Perry has assumed he can ignore the newspapers, whose stories usually just run one time. If he wants publicity, he’ll buy it in slick TV ads that run dozens of times, and fly around the state for carefully staged and controlled photo ops.
That’s particularly so since a Miner press conference several months ago to blast White’s ethics, in front of White’s Austin campaign headquarters, was co-opted by Democrats. The TV news cameras featured the raucous Democrats, including one in a rather large chicken suit, underlining Perry’s refusal to debate.
Since then, Perry’s People are guarding him almost more tightly than the state troopers who shadow him everywhere.
We’ll find out in November if it worked. Contact McNeely at davemcneely111@gmail. com or (512) 458-2963.