Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is Rick Perry Over-Hyped?

Texas Governor Rick Perry is allegedly now a serious threat to the nomination of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for president. In fact, if you believe the polls (which are routinely and notoriously inaccurate at this stage of a presidential campaign), he is actually ahead of Romney and everyone else. (It may be remembered that Ross Perot lead both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in polls in 1992…..) But if the public statements of just-announced candidate Perry are any indication of his prospects, he just might be a fast national fade.

As a southern governor, Mr. Perry was originally thought of as a threat to Mr. Romney, especially in the South, but a closer look reveals his candidacy actually HELPS Mr. Romney at this point because both Mr. Perry and Michele Bachmann compete for the same kind of conservative voter. If you split the conservative base of the GOP, Mr. Romney easily comes out ahead.

George W. Bush was a true Texan and the state’s governor, but has little resemblance to his successor in Austin. Mr. Perry may be a charming “redneck” and votegetter in Texas, but I would speculate at this point that his national poll numbers are greatly exaggerated, and that they may go down soon enough.

Republican voters are unsettled at this point, primarily because their presidential frontrunner, Mr. Romney has not really begun to campaign, and there is some uncertainly about his ostensible political vulnerabilities, e.g. his Mormonism and his support for mandates healthcare in Massachusetts when he was governor of that state. My sense of the Romney campaign so far, however, is that it is strategically right on the mark, avoiding the Iowa Straw Poll, eschewing criticism of his GOP rivals, sidestepping controversy, and concentrating on fundraising, organizing in all states, and a withering and relentless critique of President Obama. Mr. Romney does not have the Republican nomination locked up, but he seems to be getting stronger as time goes by, and now with Tim Pawlenty’s withdrawal, is the only major Republican candidate with broad appeal for the critical November segment of the 2012 election. (Unless one considers Newt Gingrich’s stubborn remaining in the campaign has the potential for a comeback.)

If Mr. Perry and his political entourage think his redneck schtick will have appeal outside the South, especially with Mrs. Bachmann so prominently in the race, I think he and they will be disappointed soon enough

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