Rick Perry received warm reviews for his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday. It was a relatively short speech, and the entire video is online here. He concluded his remarks in his typically rousing manner.
“It is time for Washington to focus on the few things the Constitution establishes as the federal government’s role: defend our country, provide a cogent foreign policy, and what the heck, deliver the mail – preferably on time and on Saturdays,” he said. “Get out of the health care business, get out of the education business. Stop hammering industry. Let the sleeping giant of American enterprise create prosperity again. My fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is upon you, it belongs to you. You have the power to change America.”
Some thoughts, after the jump.
Wayne Slater has a piece in the Morning News today that touts Rick Perry’s viability for a political comeback. His thesis is that Americans love a good comeback story, and he cites the examples of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. But his showcase example is Tiger Woods, who has regained his position as the top ranked golfer in the world, and, of course, is seeking to win a major championship that has eluded him during his comeback (as of press time, he was 3 under).
We’ve been through this before, so permit me to ask the question: Can anyone make the case that Rick Perry has a realistic shot at the Republican nomination for president? Okay, the National Journal did (sort of), but I can’t. The race for the 2016 nomination will take place in two brackets. Call one the establishment bracket, which includes Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Bob McDonnell. The other bracket is the tea party bracket, where the contenders include Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and, yes, Ted Cruz. This is the bracket where Perry would compete, but he has no chance to win it. Rubio, Paul, and Cruz all have substantial followings; Perry does not.
…the reaction from the right wing of the Republican party is going to be a ferocious backlash of “We told you so.” The GOP decided to stick with the front-runner, Mitt Romney, as is its long-established habit, and while it is certainly too early to say that Romney is in trouble, recent polling, particularly in key states like Ohio and Virginia, does not look good.
The message of the right will be that Republicans have had successive failures with moderate, establishment candidates like Romney and McCain (you can throw George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996 in there too) who do not energize the base, and that Republicans will not start winning again until they start nominating “real-deal” conservatives. The energy in the Republican party is with insurgent groups like the Ron Paulers and the Tea Party. The Republican field for 2016 is strong but it lacks social conservatives like Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. The door could even open for the likes of Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. The dilemma for R’s is that the social conservative message turns off the independents and the establishment Republicans.
The right’s message will emerge about one second after the networks call the race. The scenario works, of course, only if Obama wins.