The Morning News’ Trailblazer blog reported Wednesday that Rick Perry had said at a news conference in Dallas that he was a stronger conservative than his gubernatorial opponent. This was fodder for Republican primary voters, but I think it had another purpose. It was a baited hook designed to draw Hutchison into a fight on this point, which the Perry campaign would love to do. It is a fight she cannot win. There is no way for her to get to Perry’s right. In an October AP story Hutchison aides described her as “every bit as conservative” as Perry, pointing to her opposition to gay marriage and to federal funding for abortion. But she’s not, and that is what makes her appealing to Republicans who are tired of Rick Perry.
It is futile for Hutchison to fight Perry for the “most-conservative” label. The more she does so, the less likely she is to attract the silent majority of GOP moderates who haven’t been voting in primary elections. This is why I think bringing in Dick Cheney to campaign for her could backfire. Cheney is too conservative. He favors torture. He favors spying on American citizens. He is one of the most sinister figures to share the American political stage in recent years. He’s anathema to moderates and especially to Democrats who might be tempted to cross over into the Republican primary.
If Hutchison persists in fighting Perry for the most-conservative label, she has no chance. She will alienate the very voters she needs to get to the polls, the suburban soccer mom types. They are mainstream conservatives, and so is she. But she seems afraid to be who she really is.