Rick Perry’s initial surge in popularity as GOP front-runner has stalled to a languid pace, as his debate performances have been far less than stellar, according to political pundits. However, Perry looks to tonight’s GOP debate as an opportunity to regain his foothold as the front-runner and convince the American voters that he has what it takes to turn the dismal economy around.
"Perry will be in the spotlight because he has to put on a better performance," said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, to MSNBC. "The last few debates started to peel back the layers of the onion on Perry – and he really hasn't held up well."
Pundits predict that another mediocre debate could be the end of Perry’s campaign for the White House.
Matt Towery, an independent pollster, told Newsmax that Perry should not appear too aggressive in tonight’s debate.
“The biggest mistake that Perry can make is to try to be too tough on Romney," Towery said.
“But that is exactly what I expect him to do. To beat Mitt Romney he has to use a less bombastic style. He has the opportunity to appear like Ronald Reagan, but I am afraid he will come out desperately swinging for the fences."
An indication that Towery may be right in regards to Perry’s likely aggressive behavior tonight is a hard-hitting web video that was released by the Texan’s campaign on Monday.
The video is titled “Romney’s Remedy” and executes a harsh attack on Romney’s healthcare law in Massachusetts, dubbed “RomneyCare.”
With doomsday music playing in the background, the video features former Democratic president Jimmy Carter, as well as President Obama, endorsing RomneyCare. The video ends by asking: “Romney: change you can believe in?”
The video also jabs at Romney’s more liberal policies, saying, “Even the richest man can’t buy back his past.”
As Perry’s campaign falters, Romney seems to understand that there will be more attacks against his healthcare plan, as well as his Mormon religion. He denounced the video Monday.
"For some people in campaigns their process is one of obfuscation and bewilderment," Romney said while visiting a VFW hall, according to NBC.
"You're going to find, in a campaign like this, people running against me who will take what I said and try to say something else. There's an ad out there today that does that."
Tonight’s debate may determine whether Perry stays in the top tier of GOP candidates. Currently, Gallup has Perry in third place, with just 15 percent of the GOP support. He places behind front-runner Romney, who has 20 percent, and Cain, whose campaign has blossomed in the past two weeks, garnering him 18 percent of support.