"I'm reading. I don't like rehearsing much. I really like policy. I'm a business person. I want details, I want data, I want information, I want a plan. I know I'm going to get hit on the drug thing. They're either going to use that or the fact that I spoke to Log Cabin Republicans, something to try to fringe me with, so I'm doing some work in that regard. But they have a real hard time catching me, because they don't think like I do."
Medina had told me earlier in the day that she had spoken to Log Cabin Republicans -- gay Republicans -- and that she had told them that she thought their lifestyle was immoral, but that didn't mean she couldn't work with them on other issues. On "the drug thing," she has libertarian inclinations, which means that she's willing to at least entertain the idea that the so-called war on drugs is futile.
The Beeville native helped herself in the first debate. Be on the lookout this Friday for efforts on the part of the senator and the guv to "try to fringe her," which would indicate that the two professional pols in the race are taking her grassroots candidacy seriously.
Mrs. Medina is critical of both Mr. Perry and Ms. Hutchison, calling them "two sides of the same coin." But she has reserved some of her sharpest jabs for the governor, whom she described in an interview as the "jumpy, fidgety frat boy sitting on stage with me two weeks ago."
In response to Mrs. Medina's remark, Catherine Frazier, a spokesman for the governor, said: "Under Gov. Perry's leadership, Texas is the strongest state in the nation. If that is what she thinks about where Texas is headed, that's unfortunate."
Dr. Henson of the Texas Politics Project was among the political mavens who thought Mr. Perry would prevail in a runoff, because he was most likely to capture Mrs. Medina's voters.
But others thought Ms. Hutchison would benefit from the extra campaign time a runoff would afford and from Mrs. Medina's attacks on the governor, which the senator encouraged during the first debate.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we see more fire coming in from Gov. Perry in the direction of Debra Medina," said Ken Emanuelson, a leader of the tea-party movement in Dallas, which worked to ensure that she was included in both debates.