OTR Interviews

Morris: Perry Stupid, Not Shrewd, for Considering Skipping Future Debates

Dick Morris takes on Perry's mulling skipping debates, Cain's surge, Gingrich's momentum and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 27, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Governor Perry drops the "S" bomb. He says he may skip some debates. Skip? Really? Leave all the other candidates on the stage to grab the spotlight and dazzle the voters?

Well, what happened? Was he scared off or was it a shrewd political shrewd move. Dick Morris joins us. Dick, scared off or shrewd move that now he has said that he may skip some debates?

DICK MORRIS, DICKMORRIS.COM: Well, he got the "S" word right. Not shrewd, stupid because when -- everybody knows the reason he's skipping the debates is because he got clobbered in the last four debates.

And first of all, if you're not in the debate, you're not in the race. These debates are making the race. Nobody cares how many babies they kiss in Iowa. They look at the debates and decide who to vote for.

And secondly, everybody knows that the reason he's not debating is because he's afraid to because he's afraid he'll mess it up again. And these debates are really an audition. We're asking them all to audition for the role of the guy who debates Obama. And if you say you can't cut it, you're not going to get nominated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he's already getting clobbered by Speaker Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum, who both said tonight after a forum in New York -- they said that it's a sign of weakness that he may not do it. And Speaker Gingrich says, quote, "It's an enormous mistake." So he's not only going to get clobbered by his absence, should he, in fact, decide not to show up, but he's already getting clobbered.

MORRIS: Yes. Absolutely. It's a stupid move.

What I think is incredible, Greta, is the incredible surge of Herman Cain that's going on. And people have dismissed him as the flavor of the month and all of that. That's neither true, nor fair. He's put forward a program that Americans, and particularly Republicans, really can believe in, that by cutting the tax rate essentially in half -- in reality, in half -- you're going to have tremendous burst of entrepreneurial initiative and job growth in the United States, just like Reagan did when he cut the rate dramatically.

And I think people are really embracing it. Perry's solution, the flat tax, isn't a reform, it's just a simplification. It doesn't lower the tax at all, it just says this is a simpler way to pay it. And that's fine. But Herman Cain's "9-9-9" is terrific.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I don't understand how Governor Perry's policy possibly survives because it's an alternative, and you would -- you could either do the flat tax or you could go back to the old method. And I assume that people who will -- who get their taxes lowered would rather have the flat tax. So I'm not even -- I think there'd be a revenue issue with his.

But let me -- you talk -- you talked about Mr. Herman Cain's popularity surge. A few moments ago, Public Policy Polling released a poll. And in the great state of Wisconsin, he has now a double-digit lead over Governor Romney. He's at 30 percent to Governor Romney's 18 percent. And then you see that Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich now at 12. And in the state of Nevada, he's also surging, or at least going up. He's only 1 point behind Governor Romney. He's at 28 percent.

That must be scaring the living details out daylights out of Governor Romney right now.

MORRIS: No, it's not. Governor Romney is -- I don't know if he drinks, but if he does, he's celebrating it. Romney's goal in life is not to run against Perry in the final two. He doesn't want 17 million bucks coming at him. He knows he has to have an opponent in round two. He knows that it has to go down to a two-way race, and the guy who he thinks he can beat is Herman Cain.

Now, Romney may be wrong because all the politicians underestimate an outsider like Cain. But I'll bet the Romney camp is happy as anything by Perry's demise.

VAN SUSTEREN: But how can -- that's what I don't understand, is that Governor Perry -- or Governor Romney has been rather constant or flat or there seems to be a ceiling. He got no bounce when Governor Christie got out of the race. He got no bounce when Governor Christie endorsed him. He got no bounce when everyone said that he did a really good job at a debate. It's almost as thought that he's sort of stuck at a point, and it's, like, he can't seem to move upward.

MORRIS: Well, there was a bounce from the last debate. If you take the three polls before and the three polls after, he moved up from an average of 23 to 28. There were some well-publicized polls that had him behind Cain after that, and it is possible that in the last few days, he's slipped behind Cain again.

But he did get a bounce. And the important thing about Romney is that no matter who you throw at the guy, he still is up there in either first place or a close second, whether it's Daniels or Trump or Huckabee or Christie or Bachmann or Perry or Cain. He's still up there, and that is enormous staying power.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what's sort of interesting, too, is that while we're focused on -- pretty much on Perry, Cain and Romney, is that sort of sneaking up the back side is former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. His numbers are getting better and he's getting more -- it seems like he's getting more traction.

MORRIS: Well, what Newt needs to do is he needs to stop going on television and telling people, I have this detailed program I've been working on for a year-and-a-half, and you can go to my Web site and I'll announce it next week. He's got to put it into bite-sized 30-second segments, like Herman Cain does with "9-9-9."

VAN SUSTEREN: Which would you prefer, to do really well at debates and everyone saying you're a great debater, or right now have a great ground game in Iowa?

MORRIS: Oh, the debate. The ground game doesn't matter much and money doesn't matter much. These debates are structuring everything. You know, Greta, before we...

VAN SUSTEREN: Even -- even to the point of -- but even, like, getting -- I ask you this because it seems to me is that you've got to get people to the caucus. You've got to get your people to the caucus. You've got to get them to take off work. I mean, you really need -- I mean, you need an organization in Iowa that you don't need other places.

MORRIS: That can buy you some extra points. But the main thing is enthusiasm. Huckabee didn't have a great ground game, and he won Iowa because people were really enthusiastic about him. And I think that's why Cain is in very strong shape there.

But before we go, Greta, there's been a horrible thing that's happened that other shows are not covering, and I know you want to. The Medicare Advisory Board that sets the way they're going to cut Medicare has voted, has ordered a 50 percent pay cut for specialists in medicine and a one third pay cut for GPs over the next 10 years. They specified that specialists have to have their incomes cut by 6 percent a year for three years, and then frozen despite inflation for seven years. And general practitioners have to have a 10-year freeze.

We've discussed "Obamacare" so often on your show, Greta, and you know, I've always said that it will drive people out of medicine. It'll create a huge doctor shortage and you won't be able to get an oncologist or a cardiologist on Medicare. And this is the beginning of that process.

On my website, Dickmorris.com, I have a petition to Congress to override this. The decision is just 48 hours old. It should be the lead article in all the media, but it's not.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'll tell you what...

MORRIS: A serious threat.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're ahead of me on this, so I'm going to have to research that because you caught me cold because I didn't know that. But I will take -- take, you know, a look at it because...

MORRIS: It's absolutely vital.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'll take a look at it. I like my doctors to feel like they're, you know, compensated fairly (INAUDIBLE) But let me ask you -- let me go back to this one thing you said before we got to that, you said enthusiasm -- I think you said -- I wrote down enthusiasm matters. And that gets back to my point that I go back to Governor Romney, is that I just don't see that there's a whole lot of enthusiasm for him.


VAN SUSTEREN: It sounds like he's got a solid group there who are backing him, but I don't see that groundswell of enthusiasm that you see, for instance, for -- well, actually right now, I guess Herman Cain has the ground -- or has the enthusiasm.

MORRIS: Well, he doesn't have the bells and whistles, but it's quite an accomplishment to be in first place no matter who else he's running against. I don't think Romney is probably going to win Iowa. My bet at this point is Cain probably wins it. My bet is Romney wins New Hampshire, where he's way ahead, because he's from nearby Massachusetts...

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's double digits ahead.

MORRIS: And my bet is that they fight it out in South Carolina. I bet Romney wins Nevada. I'll bet Cain wins South Carolina. And the two of them go at it all the way down the stretch, unless Newt gets his act together.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we'll be watching very closely, as we do every single night. Dick, thank you. And I'll take a look at...

MORRIS: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... that issue you raised about Medicare -- I will take a look at...

MORRIS: Yes, do. It is so important.

VAN SUSTEREN: Take a -- I will take a look at it. Thank you, Dick.

MORRIS: Thank you.