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GOP debate: Did Rick Perry survive the attacks of his fellow Republicans?

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“In a way, he’s still the rookie in the field,” said conservative Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer immediately following the debate in Orlando, which was sponsored by Fox News and Google.

With his late entry in the GOP contest, Perry quickly shoved Michele Bachmann to the side as the tea party favorite, then bolted to the presumptive front-runner slot in national polls.

But since then, his campaign has hit a couple of speed bumps, and he’s lost ground in some polls.

He startled many analysts (not to mention voters) with his tarring Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and possibly unconstitutional. His ordering middle-school girls to receive injections to protect against a sexually transmitted disease raised the ire of many parents (and libertarians generally), and it also led to charges of “crony capitalism” because of political contributions from Merck, the company that makes the vaccine.

His pro-Israel speech in New York this week was sharply criticized by Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan.

“It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Perry that when you are running for president you have to be big, you have to act as if you're a broad fellow who understands that when the American president is in a tight spot in the U.N., America is in a tight spot in the U.N. You don't exploit it for political gain,” Noonan wrote.

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