Publisher Steve Forbes says he has no trepidation in backing Rick Perry for president, despite his low poll numbers, because the presidential race remains “fluid.” Forbes – who ran for president twice himself – also told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that he has no trouble with Perry’s occasional gaffes, as the Texas governor comes “across much better in person.”
“I think this race has proved it is a very fluid situation and already Newt Gingrich is starting to get some of the flak that every temporary front-runner seems to get,” Forbes said. “So I think this is going to be a long contest and I think Rick Perry has an excellent chance to move up to the middle between [Mitt] Romney and what’s happening with Newt Gingrich.
“So I don’t think this thing is over at all – it is very volatile,” he said. “I think the real sparks are still yet to come in January and February.”
Blitzer asked whether Perry’s “so-called brain freeze” and other gaffes have had any impact on Forbes’ early decision to back the Texas governor.
“No, I’ve known Rick Perry since over 10 years ago when he first became governor and put in some excellent reforms to their legal system in Texas – especially against tort lawyers,” Forbes said. “And so he’s much better – came across much better in person than he did in those early debates.
“So I think, with practice, he is getting better. I think [his] positive policies – especially on the flat tax, and energy, and other areas- I think will hold him in good stead as people finally make up their minds in January and February,” he said. “Again, this is a very, highly fluid, situation.”
Forbes said he has “nothing against” front-runner Gingrich, but he believes Perry “is going to be a far better candidate and has demonstrated real executive ability in Texas and his ideas are as good or better than those of Newt – it’s not anti-Newt as much as it is pro-Rick.
“I think in terms of his ability to run the larger – second largest state in the union,” Forbes continued. “Newt as you know had a lot of problems when he was speaker of the House – he’s obviously learned a lot from that.
“But Rick Perry has demonstrated an ability to work with the legislature, get teamwork going in terms of getting things done, getting major things through where he is the chief executive,” he said. “Newt was Speaker of the House, not President of the United States.
“He has a great ability to negotiate – so I just think it’s not again anti-Newt so much as I think Rick Perry in an executive position has demonstrated that he can get real things done in the second largest state of the union, which in terms of economics is the most dynamic state in the union except perhaps North Dakota,” Forbes said.