Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has dropped to fourth place in most polls, and his fundraising machine is lilting. So now he’s taking forceful – some say desperate – moves to revive his candidacy The Hill
This week he proposed a part-time citizen Congress, urged that congressmen be jailed for insider trading, challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to a debate and run ads calling President Barack Obama’s policies “socialist.”
The Texas governor’s strategy may turn out to be brilliant, but then again it may not.
“It’s ‘let’s throw everything against the wall, see if it can possibly stick,’” Republican strategist Tyler Harber, told The Hill. Haber hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate yet. “This is not something a front-runner would do, and anyone looking at this race would say Perry is far from front-runner status. . . . It is a gimmick, but creating conflict creates news, and sometimes that’s what you need to cut through the chatter.”
Perry’s strategy could bomb, but he now has little to lose by trying it, Harber said.
Perry has suffered a steady slide in the polls since grabbing the lead shortly after he entered the race in August. He hit bottom after a major gaffe in last week’s debate – forgetting a federal agency he wants to eliminate.
So the combative tone makes sense, Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist who backs Perry, told Politico. Perry’s low ranking in the polls means he can’t rely on free media coverage of his policy ideas, Mackowiak says.
“I think they’re trying to pick a fight, get a little bit of attention,” he said. “I think most people, especially in the primary voter universe, will support something like this. I’d bet you they tested this, and I suspect it tested well.”
To be sure, the idea to debate Pelosi represents “a Hail Mary, for sure,” Mackowiak said.
It’s unusual for a presidential candidate to challenge the opposing party’s House leader to a debate, but Perry got the verbal jousting going with Pelosi.
The two took to Twitter, with Pelosi writing, “He did ask if I could debate here in Washington on Monday. . . . Monday, I’m going to be in Portland in the morning, visiting some of our labs in California in the afternoon. That’s two … I can’t remember what the third thing is.”
Perry’s response: “Something @NancyPelosi would like to forget: passing a 2k-page gov takeover of healthcare without reading it. American ppl haven’t forgotten.”
Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, expresses some skepticism over Perry’s approach. “He’s playing right to that [populist, tea party] base, and I understand what he’s trying to accomplish,” Robinson told The Hill. “But at this point people are looking for serious candidates who can talk like adults.”
Fundraising is where Perry has held the advantage over all opponents except Romney. His Texas money machine helped sit him pretty with $15 million in cash as of Sept. 30. But Perry’s weak performance in recent weeks has turned off the money spigot, according to the Houston Chronicle.
One big fundraiser said Perry’s take will shrink to between $3 million and $5 million this quarter. That means Perry would have to slow his spending binge that includes a major advertising campaign.
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