The Perry ad campaign: sign of strength? or sign of weakness?
Mon October 10, 2011 10:27 am

Politicalwire.com reports today that the Perry campaign is unveiling an attack ad against Mitt Romney. Here is the full text of the item:

Rick Perry released a tough new ad linking Mitt Romney to President Obama’s new health care law.

ABC News calls it the “harshest and most slickly produced attack ad of Campaign 2012.”

“There’s no word yet from the Perry campaign on where or how much the ad will run. But a knowledgable GOP source unaffiliated with any of the candidates tells me Perry plans to unleash a $20 million ad barrage against Romney going into the early primaries.”

* * * *

This is vintage Perry. He always seeks to be the aggressor. But I wonder if this is a good decision by the Perry camp. To be running a negative ad about a primary opponent at this stage of the game–at least three months before the first primary voter casts a ballot–looks more like desperation than a well reasoned gambit. A negative ad is only effective if the candidate airing the ad has a positive image. The Perry campaign is launching this ad at a time when Perry has been in decline in most polls. I don’t think it’s going to help him.

Worse, it runs the risk of being a distraction. Perry has a good message on the most important issue in the campaign–jobs and the economy. If he is going to spend $20 million on an ad campaign, wouldn’t it be better spent if the message were how Perry will create jobs in America? Yet he keeps straying off-message, into issues like social security and immigration and, here, health care.

The danger to Perry is that the chattering classes will see this ploy for what it looks like, an attempt to rescue a campaign that is in trouble. These perceptions race through the political bloodstream like an epidemic. I don’t think Perry needed to attack Romney now. What he needs is a good debate performance, not an attack ad.

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