Joe Allbaugh, who headed George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and served as director of FEMA in the Bush administration (pre-Katrina), will hold the title of Senior Adviser in the Perry campaign. He specifically did not want a title that suggested he was in charge of the campaign (although he is).
Here is how this came about. Yesterday (Sunday) Perry called Allbaugh and asked him to come to his home. Allbaugh came and Perry asked him to lead the campaign. Allbaugh agreed. At the time, the rest of the Perry team was working on the candidate’s economic plan. Well, sort of. As of 3 p.m. yesterday, there was no economic plan, even though it was scheduled for a rollout in the immediate future. Allbaugh told Perry not to talk about the plan until he knew what was in it, and he had to know it well enough to explain it. That this simple step had not occurred to the Perry team is rather shocking, although it was clear from the shoddy work on the energy plan that nobody knew what they were doing when it came to federal issues that required a degree of knowledge that went beyond talking points.
Perry made a common mistake in politics, and one that he has replicated in Texas: He valued loyalty above talent. He never brought new blood into his inner circle, sticking with the ones who brung him, though they couldn’t get the job done. Allbaugh had volunteered his services earlier in the race and was rejected. Perry had to be really desperate to reach out to a friend who had never been part of the inner circle. But he was smart enough to know whom to call on.
Can Allbaugh turn the battleship around? The campaign has wasted a lot of time–all of September and most of October. The leads in the early polls are but a memory now. But, to answer my own question, I believe that the answer depends upon Perry. If he is willing to work, to study the issues, to adopt a media strategy that is something other than “the Perry campaign did not respond to a request for the information,” he still has a good chance to be the Republican nominee.