COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- I'm following Rick Perry on the trail today, and he just wrapped up a "town hall meeting" here that missed a certain something: Questions. Perry arrived on time, talked to a crowd of at least 75 people, introduced them to an injured Iraq War veteran who's riding the campaign bus, and... thanked everyone for showing up.
The Fourth Estate was displeased. Veteran scribe Walter Shapiro buttonholed Perry afterward to ask why he didn't take questions, as town halls are sort of designed for. "We'll be making more stops," said Perry. The next two stops are a walk-around in one town and a meet-and-greet in another, so -- well, let's reserve judgment, but Perry may be able to stay on message and dodge on camera Q&As.
Not that the crowd minded. The voters I talked to after the speech basically assumed that Perry had places to be, and their rock-bottom expectations produced warm feelings for the candidates. There were audible sniffles and tears as the Iraq vet spoke, especially after he noted that he "can't regulate my body temperature anymore" but he'll be knocking on doors. That razzle-dazzled.