Perry's Capitol Hill Appearances Get Tiny Turnout

Thursday, 08 Dec 2011 04:27 PM

By Dan Weil

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What a difference three months makes. In September, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was challenging former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the front-runner position in the Republican presidential race, everyone wanted a piece of the Texan. But Wednesday, when Perry attended two events on Capitol Hill, very few were interested enough to show up, Politico reports.

He appeared at a Capitol Hill Club reception and at a meeting of the Congressional Health Care Caucus but drew only a few House Republicans and journalists. Even Perry’s own campaign downplayed the events, failing to list them in its daily media advisory.

And if Perry was looking for publicity, making the healthcare panel meeting private probably wasn’t the best way to do it. As for the club meeting, while it was going on, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam were in another room in the building, briefing donors.

House GOP officials told Politico that Perry did a poor job of publicizing the events.

Perry did get some turnout from Southern conservatives, including South Carolina Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Trey Gowdy, and from his home-state delegation. But many Texas representatives have fought with Perry over the years, and only seven of the state’s 25 congressional Republicans have endorsed him.

Veteran Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, who attended the healthcare briefing, sees no need to make an endorsement. “I know the governor, and he knows us, and we have a great working relationship,” he told Politico.

When Perry met with about 15 House Republicans at the club, he didn’t exactly have them doing cartwheels over his proposal to cut congressional pay and working hours.

“Obviously, that idea probably goes better on the stump than in a roomful of members of Congress,” Gowdy, who hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate, told Politico. “In a roundabout way, I admire him talking to us about what he said on the stump.”

Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot reacted in much the same way. “He brought it up. I’ll give him credit for bringing it up in the belly of the beast,” Chabot, who also hasn’t endorsed anyone yet, told Politico. But he’s not enthusiastic about the idea. “We’ll have to take it under advisement,” Chabot said.

At the club meeting, Perry showed some humorous self-deprecation in light of his plummet in the polls and brain freeze at one of the debates. But he warned against counting him out in such a fluid presidential race. Several other candidates have risen and fallen in the polls, just like him, leaving plenty of doubt about the eventual outcome, Perry said.

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