The headline is White’s favorable/unfavorable number in the Rasmussen poll. If that is accurate–and you can’t make a living in politics by betting that polls are wrong–White is destroyed. What happened? Here are some theories: 1. It all started with White dilly-dallying about releasing his tax returns. It looked as if he had something to hide. If you can’t get over that hurdle, you should not be running for public office. These days, everybody has to release their tax returns. White’s refusal was amateurish. He let the issue cook on the stove until it was boiled over. 2. He ignored the old adage that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. His TV spots were clumsily written, especially the recent one about insurance, in which White uses the legalese term “reasonableness.” The word is that White is in charge of his own campaign. Perry would never make that mistake. 3. He’s a terrible TV candidate. He can’t keep still. His head bobs and weaves like a punchdrunk boxer’s. The camera hates him. 4. He has a “D” after his name. That alone may be too much to overcome. 5. He never had a clear, simple message. [See Kay Bailey Hutchison]. Perry does: more jobs, less Obama. 6. The ad calling Perry a coward (for not debating) was a mistake. It went too far. Perry has many traits that are less than admirable, starting with arrogance, but cowardice is not one of them. So here we are, in late September, six weeks out, and Perry has essentially turned Bill White into Tony Sanchez. Is there anything left for White to do? Arrogance is the chink in Perry’s armor. Maybe there is a narrative about how Perry came to the Capitol 25 years ago, a nice guy from West Texas, everybody liked him, but now he has gotten too big for his britches–the mansion in Barton Creek, the $129,000 security detail, the trip to China, the refusal to debate, the refusal to answer questions from the media, the refusal to meet with editorial boards. “What happened to that boy?” It’s a good narrative, but it doesn’t work when your favorable/unfavorable is 42/47.
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