Texas Gov. Rick Perry has lit up the Republican presidential primaries like no other candidate, former Education Secretary William Bennett wrote in an opinion piece for CNN.
“Until Perry's entrance, there had been a lot of support for the various declared candidates, but there had also been a lot of unhappiness, a sense that none of the candidates was quite up to the task of beating President Obama, that none of the candidates was lighting the party's fire as someone that could appeal to the base, bridge the establishment's interests with the tea party interests, and — at the same time — occupy a position of national leadership,” Bennett wrote for CNN.
“Indeed, one recent poll revealed less than half [45%] of registered Republican primary voters were satisfied with the field that included most of the candidates we've seen thus far.”
Perry also is polling very well, says Bennett, who expects the Texas governor to hold up well to those scrutinizing his record.
Perry’s entrance also shook up the race. He bested Mitt Romney as a write-in candidate in the Iowa Straw Poll, and most recent polling puts him in front of the pack, beating both Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann by double digits. Yes, Perry will have a lot to overcome. His record of job creation in Texas will be scrutinized and questions will be asked whether his brash, Texas style is too hard for the rest of the country.
“For the next several weeks, the Republican race will be a Perry-Bachmann-Romney race,” Bennett wrote.
"And while Perry and Romney will slug it out for establishment credibility and support, Perry and Bachmann will slug it out for the base and the tea party.
“That's harder work for Perry — trying to take support away from two candidates with two different and important constituencies. But if his political record in Texas is any indication — elected governor three times in a big and diverse state, and against 'establishment' insurgents within the GOP [e.g., Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison] — it looks like the new front-runner within the GOP will be a Texas governor once again.”
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