During Thursday night’s debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry likened what he predicts will be his moment to shine to that of Christian football player Tim Tebow. But unlike the Denver Bronco, Perry has shown little signs of a political resurgence.
Perry, in what was his final debate before the 2012 primaries, sent a message to Americans who are doubtful he could take on President Barack Obama as the GOP nominee: “I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses.”
However, his parodied religious message, continued gaffes in debates and distant fourth place standing in the national polls have made his chances at a comeback more remote than Tebow’s.
When asked to convince voters that he could carry on a debate with Obama, Perry told the crowd that he is now gaining his footing in the debates and has the pedigree like Tebow to defy naysayers and win the presidency.
“There are a lot of folks that said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback. There were people who stood up and said well, he doesn’t have the right throwing mechanisms or he doesn’t, you know, he’s not playing the game right. He won two national championships and that looked pretty good. We were the national champions in job creation back in Texas. But am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses,” he answered.
Tebow and Perry are both outspoken Christians.
Tebow was homeschooled by his Christian parents and spent three summers in the Philippines assisting with his parents’ missionary work before going to college. He also led millions of people to search John 3:16 and Proverbs 3:5-6 after he displayed the verses in his eye black during football games. Tebow is currently recognized for celebrating football victories on bended knee. The move is now called “Tebowing.”
Perry held a massive call to prayer that angered atheists prior to entering the race. He also recently released an ad titled “Strong” where he says he’s not ashamed to say he’s a Christian and vows to end the “war on religion.”
The two were local stars in their own right before stepping into the national spotlight.
The Texas Republican dazzled conservatives with his state’s record for being the number one job-producing state in 2009, for his pull-no-punches style of criticizing big government, and unabashed Christian beliefs.
Tebow wowed the NFL and the public after helping his team, the Florida Gators, win the 2007 and 2009 BCS National Championships, becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and wearing Bible verses in his eye black.
Both were widely criticized upon entering the limelight.
Perry’s standing in the national polls soared above Mitt Romney’s when he entered the GOP race in the summer. It crashed down as Perry appeared tongue-tied in one debate, lenient on legal immigration in another debate and racist after the media uncovered a racial slur painted on a rock on his West Texas hunting property.
Some coaches criticized Tebow’s game during his enrollment in the 2009 draft and doubted whether he would be picked up in the first and even the second rounds.
Unlike Perry, Tebow has been able to quickly recover from criticisms, proving his worth on the field as a Broncos quarterback.
Perry, however, is still plagued by misstatements and memory lapses during public appearances. Also his attempts to acknowledge his faith and connect with the Christian community have backfired, unlike Tebow.
While Tebowing has taken off with a whole website dedicated to pictures of Tebowing brides, firefighters and toddlers, Perry’s “Strong” ad has been parodied with scenes from the gay romance film movie “Brokeback Mountain” and even an animated Jesus denouncing his message.
Perry is also down to nearly 7 percent in the polls after reaching nearly 30 percent in September.
Still, the Texas governor remained optimistic Thursday night.
He said of the debate format, “I like these debates and I hope President Obama and I debate a lot.”
Republican blog Red State also praised Perry’s debate performance stating that he “hit a home run” on several of his questions and trended up in the polls following the debate.
Perry’s campaign said the Texas governor will spend the remainder of the two-plus weeks left before the Iowa primary touring the state and getting his message out.