Hugh Hewitt

Perry is right to condemn the wagon train of debates hosted by, for the most part, activist journalists from pro-Obama networks and often, as with Stephanopoulos and Gregory, obvious agendas that were rolled out in hope of benefiting not just ratings but also President Obama.

It is an absurd way for Republicans to pick a GOP nominee, just as is the participation of non-Republicans in the Republican caucuses and primary of Iowa and New Hampshire respectively.

The Texas governor has staked his comeback on retail politics in South Carolina, and he's surrounded himself with some retired Navy SEALs, his loyal staff and a firm belief that his long tenure at the top in Texas will speak for him better than he has in the contrived settings of the debates.

It may work. He will need at least a strong third place to persuade donors to come back. He's battling two other candidates asking to be named the last "real conservative" standing in Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and absentees are already being processed by the tens of thousands in Florida where the last of January's contests will be held.

But one thing is for certain: Rick Perry does't have a glass jaw. Texas tough is real, and it is working the small towns and out-of-the-way places of South Carolina, hoping to surprise the country on Saturday, January 21.

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.