Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to a public debate next week in a letter obtained by The Hill.
"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," wrote Perry to Pelosi Wednesday. Perry is flexible about the time: "If Monday doesn't work, perhaps we could find a time in Iowa over the course of the next month to discuss theses issues in front of the people of America's heartland."
Earlier this week in Iowa, Perry proposed a plan to "uproot and overhaul Washington." He proposed making Congress part-time, slashing lawmakers' pay, requiring a two-thirds vote for tax increases and ending lifetime appointments for federal judges.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 Democrat in the House, questioned the seriousness of the proposal, saying, "Is this a serious proposal he is making for a country that has very high unemployment, whose budget deficit is larger than it has ever been in history, where we have two wars that we are confronting and trying to bring to a conclusion?"
Perry referenced Hoyer's "outburst" in his letter, writing, "I wonder if his obstructionism reflects your own opposition and that of the Democratic Caucus to urgent reforms the American public so vehemently demand."
Perry has himself acknowledged that he is "not the best debater," and stumbled badly in a Nov. 9 debate. Perry struggled for 55 seconds to name the third agency of government he would cut as president. "I would do away with the education, the um, commerce, and let's see. I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops," he finally said.
UPDATE: Pelosi declined Perry's offer Thursday morning at a press conference, poking fun at his debate gaffe. "He did ask if I could debate here in Washington, Monday, it is my understanding," she said. "I'm going to be in Portland in the morning ... and California in the afternoon. That's two -- and I can't remember what the other thing is..." she quipped.