(CNN) – The New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial page editor explained the paper's decision not to endorse Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, saying he is not prepared to run for president of the United States.
In an op-ed published Tuesday, Drew Cline said the Texas governor's debate performances proved he "just can't perform at the national level."
"He did more than misspeak. He did more than recklessly attack his own base and generally act like the class bully assigned to spend study hall with the chess club," Cline wrote in a piece headlined "I like Perry. But...." "He did more than forget his talking points and display an uncomfortable lack of knowledge of important topics. He simply suffocated."
Perry received criticism following the debates so far this election cycle, most notably over his failure to recall the third government agency he would cut as part of his plan to reform Washington, D.C.
The paper's conservative editorial board in the first-in-the-nation primary state backed Newt Gingrich Sunday, citing his experience and leadership qualities. The former House speaker has seen his national and state-wide poll number rise recently, while Perry's have dropped.
Although Cline said Perry is politically astute, he remains "unprepared" for the national stage, which the polls reflect.
"Had he entered the race much earlier and had time to better prepare, maybe things would be different now. But he didn't, and Republican voters nationwide saw Rick Perry Raw," Cline wrote. "Unfortunately for Perry, it wasn't as good as advertised."