Is Rick Perry Suffering From Back Pain?

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TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12:  Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry has his makeup touched up during a break in the presidential debate sponsored by CNN and The Tea Party Express at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The debate featured the eight candidates ten days before the Florida straw poll.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry has his makeup touched up during a break in the presidential debate sponsored by CNN and The Tea Party Express at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The debate featured the eight candidates ten days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Photo: Win McNamee/2011 Getty Images

World-renowned Perry-watcher Paul Burka of Texas Monthly wonders whether Rick Perry is still suffering from his July back surgery:


Perry was clearly off his game during the tea party debate. He looked uncomfortable, his face was strained, his combativeness was muted. He looked to me like a man with back pain. I wondered if he were wearing a brace. I’ve had back surgery, and it hurt to watch him ... He was low-energy and the feistiness wasn’t there. That’s why I’m wondering whether the back operation didn’t go well, or whether he got irked because Bachmann got to his right on the HPV issue. Another explanation could be that Perry has been around so long and has been so successful in politics that our expectations are high, and they are hard to meet. He just didn’t seem presidential, and I think the reason was that he was hurting ... I am beginning to wonder whether he will have the stamina to hold up to the demands of a grueling campaign if his back is injured. For now, that’s just as big a threat as Romney is.

Not that we're nearly as familiar with Perry as Burka is, but if you ask us, this might be reading into things a bit. Maybe Perry appeared uncomfortable at times because he was being mercilessly attacked by nearly everyone on stage?

Not Rick Perry’s night [BurkaBlog/Texas Monthly]