Covering Rick Perry: “Exciting!”

Three out of five MSNBC talking heads agree (the other two at the table didn’t weigh in): they’d rather cover Rick Perry than Mitt Romney.

The following was an exchange between some of the regulars on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday. This particular conversation came on the heels of a clip of Mitt Romney on the trail Monday talking up his economic experience and a clip of Rick Perry at the Iowa State Fair addressing a reporter’s question about his economic record versus Romney’s (MSNBC chyron: “Perry v. Romney. Battling over record, experience”). Now, to the transcript:

PAT BUCHANAN: Look, who would you rather cover?


BUCHANAN: For sure. Let’s go see what Rick says! It’s an exciting campaign. With all respect, I like Mitt Romney a lot. I think he’d make a fine president. But if you’re going to cover a campaign this one’s got excitement and energy and fire to it…

MARK HALPERIN: I’m ready to cancel my vacation to go cover Rick Perry.

This isn’t the first time, of course, a cable newser has felt excited by a presidential candidate and announced as much on-air. Political reporters have been taken with (taken home by, even) candidates and campaigns before. True, those were feelings that evolved over time, after repeated exposure to soaring speeches and straight talk, while this Perry “excitement” could just be a fleeting crush on the new(est) guy—the guy with the “colorful tongue.” Too soon to say.

It isn’t just these MSNBC talkers who seem to find covering Rick Perry “exciting.” Perry, The Atlantic had it, “wow[ed] the national press” on Sunday with his “folksy speech” in Waterloo, Iowa. So, will reporters let the “excitement” of covering Rick Perry get in the way of actually covering Rick Perry? Will “let’s go see what Rick says!”—as Buchanan put it—overshadow “let’s press Perry for answers?” Something to watch.

Also to watch: What of the less “exciting” candidates? The ones who don’t tempt Mark Halperin to cancel his vacation? Will an I’d rather be covering Perry attitude seep into the coverage? (Will there be any coverage)?

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.