The Last Stand of James Richard Perry

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 20 2012 9:42 AM

The Last Stand of James Richard Perry

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- My story from right before the debate was a quick retrospective on Rick Perry's final 24 hours as a presidential candidate. After the debate, I caught up with some of the newly liberated Perry embeds, who'd gotten the sense that things were winding down, but just the smallest bit irritated at how they'd been the last to know. (They'd gotten denials all day when asking about Perry's decision; CNN's Peter Hamby, a roving scoop machine with deep South Carolina sources, got the story.) I tried to capture one moment when an embed realized Perry was checking out.

Another embed, trying to do something with the frozen moment, asked Perry to react to theObama administration’s decision to put off the Keystone XL pipeline. Perry looked dully into the lens.
“Uh, it doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “But it’s, uh, again, the president’s focused more on the next election than on the next generation. Getting this country, uh, dependent on, uh, foreign sources of crude, and on countries that are not our friends is, uh, really problematic. So this Canadian oil, uh, there’s a possibility we could lose it to China, uh, with that decision. So I hope Americans will really become unhinged with that decision, because it is a really bad decision for our country, for energy independence, and, uh, sends a horrible message at a time that we’re headed, uh, to $4 to $5 oil—sorry, $4 to $5 gasoline, uh, to have a neighbor who’s willing to sell us crude that is, uh, available.”

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A nice dessert, when you're done with this: Keach Hagey's fun story about the media believing the hype about Huntsman and Perry. It's a good thing pundits never have to answer for anything!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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