Commentary: In Perry's viral video, the crowd loved the 'animated' Texan

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramNovember 4, 2011 

Every Texan I know was loopy last Friday.

It just happened that one of us had to give a speech.

On the night after we all stayed up late for a cataclysmic event hereafter known only as Game 6, Gov. Rick Perry had to give a keynote speech that has since turned into a sour note.

For some reason -- he says he was just "animated" -- Perry came off like a giggly, loopy cross between TV preacher Robert Tilton and Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares.

Still haven't heard about this? Look on YouTube.com for Perry grinning and telling a Manchester, N.H., banquet crowd that New Hampshire is "such a cool state ... 'Live free or die!' Bring it!" or yee-hawing over a gift of maple syrup.

Selling a flat tax, he said tax accountants earn too much: "I'm sorry, dude."

But there's something else you haven't heard.

The crowd liked him.

A reporter from the online Huffington Post quoted Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas about the speech: "It was different."

But other reports were more complimentary.

The New Hampshire Union Leader described Perry as "comfortable," like a pastor in his church.

Attendee Paul Thoman of Nashua was quoted: "If he could speak like that in front of every American, he'd win."

An NBC reporter wrote on Twitter: "Very positive reception ... standing 'O' and whistles. His energy level tonight verged on comically high."

ABC reported: "Rick Perry literally skipped/hopped off the stage. Incredibly animated and alert tonight."

It was not until the next day, when a highlight reel hit the Web (www.youtube.com/CharlieJohnson1986), that Perry's speech became a joke.

Former congressional candidate Jennifer Horn of Nashua, an uncommitted former Tim Pawlenty supporter, said Thursday by phone that the Texas governor has been a "significant disappointment."

But she called his speech "bright, articulate, passionate and entertaining." She and other New Hampshire Republicans rallied Thursday to defend the event. Horn said both Perry and the host Cornerstone Action Group were victims of "unfair editing."

"It's easy to make anybody look odd," she said.

The mostly Christian conservative crowd liked Perry's comments against abortion and his economic message, she said.

It worried Horn that as of late Thursday, more than 1.1 million viewers had watched the YouTube version.

"We are in the process of choosing the next leader of the free world," she said.

"The American people are not interested in rumors, or innuendo or silly videos."

Sorry, dude.

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