Perry received mostly good reviews from his debate debut, at the Reagan Library on Sept. 7, but less positive notices after his second outing at the CNN debate in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 12. How he performs in the rubber match in Orlando, put on by Fox News, Google and the Republican Party of Florida, will provide an important directional signal: Is Perry moving up, or down?
After Tampa, some critics suggested Perry should put in some extra study time before the next debate. But sources in the Perry camp say he's approaching this one in "essentially the same way" as previous sessions. Preparing for Perry's first debate, his staff put him behind a podium for a mock session, to get a feel for the timing and flow and the sheer strangeness of standing on stage with seven other candidates. Now, Perry's debate prep is mostly small group discussions.