Perry Tries to Stay the Course; Good Luck With That

Is the governor crashing and burning?


Eileen Smith

This week Rick Perry sought to prove that he can still raise money despite his recent campaign blunders and drop in the polls. Perry’s campaign is living by this three-word mantra: Stay the course. But unless he improves his performance, another three-word combo might be more accurate: Crash and burn.

Perryland or Bust

If Rick Perry doesn’t start turning things around—and quick—I’m going to have to change the name of this column from Perryland to Wasteland.

Republicans are grappling with the realization that the real Rick Perry is not necessarily the Rick Perry they had in mind, especially following his cringe-inducing debate performance and resounding defeat in the Florida straw poll. The GOP may be facing a cruel reality: Either finally accept Mitt Romney or hold a nationwide GOP prayer vigil for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to enter the race. The main appeal of Chris Christie? He’s not Mitt Romney. The main appeal of Mitt Romney? He’s not Rick Perry. And so on.

Despite Perry’s dip in the polls this week and concerns from supporters and fundraisers alike, his team plans to “stay the course.” Politico reports that one of the only things his advisers want to do is ramp up the attacks on Romney. Forget improving debate techniques or restructuring talking points or undergoing an extreme candidate makeover. When all else fails, keep the focus on your opponent. With a little bit of luck, Perry could reclaim the coveted frontrunner title of “Slightly Better than the Other Guy.” With that in mind, Perry’s team released two new campaign ads this week—the first one attacks Romney’s paperback version of his book, No Apology, and the second one hits him on education and “Race to the Top.” Both ads have been deemed “phony” by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. Not to mention the fact that they look like they were created by 6 year olds.

In a new FOX News poll, Romney has taken the lead among Republican primary voters, 23 percent to Perry’s 19 percent. Back in August, Perry was the frontrunner with 29 percent. The man is 10 points down from where he was just one month ago and yet his advisers are staying the course. It’s just crazy enough to work. But where? In the key primary state of Florida, a new poll by Public Policy Polling found that 58 percent of voters there view Perry unfavorably, and consider Romney a stronger candidate in the general election. In Iowa, a poll of likely Republican caucus goers shows Romney as the frontrunner with 22 percent. Perry comes in third behind Michele Bachmann with 14 percent. No Florida? No Iowa? No New Hampshire? No Perry. (Incidentally the PPP Florida poll also found that President Obama enjoys an overall 76 percent approval rating from Jewish voters. Consider The Rapture on hold.)

Full Disclosure

Today marks the end of the fundraising quarter, which means we soon get to find out how much money each candidate has raised from their bestest, richest friends. The Boston Globe is reporting that Romney’s numbers will fall somewhere between $11 million and $13 million, a notable drop from last quarter’s total of $18 million. Sources in the Romney camp, according to the report, are predicting that Perry will have raised more money this quarter although the Perry camp has not yet released its figures. (Candidates have until October 15 to release this quarter’s fundraising and spending numbers to the FEC.) Ron Paul is expected to report $5 million. The rest of the candidates will be lucky if they’ve raised enough money for their next meal.

Take This Job and Love It!

Anita Perry has taken a more visible role in her husband’s campaign, defending Perry’s position on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants and making excuses for his lackluster debate performance. She also touted her husband’s job creation prowess while traveling in Iowa.

He knows how to create jobs. We have 1,500 people moving to Texas every day to find a job. I’m not going to tell you they’re all high-paying jobs, but they’re a job, even if they’re a minimum wage job. And that’s what people are hungry for.

Minimum wage! Somebody pinch me! Let’s see the out-of-touch Warren Buffett come up with that many low-paying jobs. If anyone understands career growth opportunities within the private sector, it’s Rick Perry.