Rick Perry has challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to debate him next week about his plan for a part-time Congress.
In a letter to Pelosi obtained by The Hill, the Texas governor wrote: “I am in Washington Monday and would love to engage you in a public debate about my Overhaul Washington plan versus the congressional status quo.
“I think it would be a tremendous service to the American people to see a public airing of these differences. Let the people decide. If Monday doesn’t work, perhaps we could find a time in Iowa over the course of the next month to discuss these issues in front of the people of America’s heartland.”
Still, the decision to challenge Pelosi to a debate might raise some eyebrows.
It’s unusual for a presidential candidate to challenge a congressional leader to a debate, and Perry has been criticized for his lackluster debate performances. He stumbled in last week’s debate in Michigan when he forgot the name of the third government department he would close, only to remember it later.
That performance led some observers to argue his campaign for the White House was finished. A survey in Iowa this week found Perry in single digits and trailing not only Mitt Romney, but Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
In the letter, Perry pointedly invited Pelosi to Iowa, the early caucus state where he’s trying to gain traction after falling in the polls.
Pelosi’s office did not answer The Hill’s question about whether she would meet with the Texas governor.
“Should you choose not to respond or engage in such a healthy discussion, I will take it to mean you will continue your obstructionist ways in the face of much needed Washington reform,” Perry wrote.
Perry will be in Washington next week for Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate on foreign policy issues.
In his letter, the governor also asked Pelosi if she agrees with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) criticism of his plan for the part-time Congress.
Hoyer on Tuesday asked if Perry was making a “serious proposal” and accused him of “pandering to the Tea Party.”
“I wonder if [Hoyer’s] obstructionism reflects your own opposition and that of the Democratic Caucus to urgent reform the American public vehemently demand,” Perry wrote in his letter.
— Heinze is the founder of GOP12.