Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - An "inferior" debate performance won't hurt Rick Perry in the long run, said the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked at a press availability Monday about the Texas governor's widely panned performance at a GOP debate last week.
"He's been in the race for three weeks. I'd say cut him some slack," McDonnell said. "People will forgive something they might think is an inferior debate performance if somebody's right on the issues."
McDonnell was in the New Hampshire state capital to give the keynote address at a fundraiser for the state Republican Party.
Afterward he said that of the GOP presidential candidates, he was partial to Romney and Perry because they had served as governors.
The man in charge of the national effort to elect Republican governors said Perry's record on job creation in Texas was more important than a debate.
"At the end of the day this is not going to be an election that's going to be about personality. It's going to be about issues," McDonnell said, adding Perry was strong on the economic issues driving this election. "This wasn't maybe his best performance, but this thing's got a long way to go."
The rising GOP star emphatically ruled out the chance he could join the 2012 field, but would not rule out a vice presidential slot.
"The only thing those nine Republicans care about now is how are they going to get the nomination," McDonnell said when asked about the possibility he could round out the GOP ticket. "And then they'll worry about all that sometime next summer."