Texas Gov. Rick Perry is definitely an outsider now. He is on the flank of the debate platform, the last candidate called on and a fringe participant in the 14th GOP candidate debate. In fact, 45 minutes into the debate Perry had been called on precisely two times.
That Perry has fallen to a level of also-ran status pains his friends and makes a mockery of his troubled attempts to remain a credible presidential candidacy. Panelists leading the ABC News/Yahoo! News/WMUR debate didn't call on Perry until the 18th minute of the two-hour debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
When Perry was riding high in the polls, he received questions early in debates and stood near the center of the stage, even with eight candidates on the stage. Now, with just six in the field, Perry was placed on the far right edge of the stage.
Perry's first engagement in the debate was on the question of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's spending votes and his ties to D.C. lobbying shops.
Perry said the nation needs an authentic "outsider" with no ties to spending earmarks in Washington, which both Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas support. Perry criticized Paul for seeking earmarks - specified spending projects written by Congress - and then later voting against the full spending bill. "In Texas, we call that hypocrisy," he said.