Are the fates conspiring to make Rick Perry president? It certainly seems so. Throughout his political career, Perry has always managed to be in the right place at the right time. Now, at the moment when he has compiled a record that enables him to contemplate running for the presidency, the Republican field has collapsed into the weakest group in many election cycles. Mitch Daniels’ exit from the Republican presidential race yesterday [Saturday] further weakens what was already a drab GOP field. Already on the sidelines are Barbour, Huckabee, Thune, DeMint, Christie, Jeb Bush, Jindal, Pataki, Trump, Bloomberg, and now Daniels. Those who are left: Romney, Gingrich, Palin, Pawlenty, Bachmann, Huntsman, Ron Paul, Santorum, Cain–and Perry. Romney has the money and the mantle of frontrunner, but Perry is no neophyte when it comes to raising money, and his conservative record is near-impeccable. I think Perry will run for president much as he ran for governor against Bill White: (1) Run against Washington; (2) Avoid the mainstream media while attacking them (4) Stick to appearances on Fox News, conservative talk radio, and a few well chosen Republican gatherings; (5) use the social media to build up a humongous e-mail list of members of conservative organizations; (6) stay below the radar screen for as long as possible; and (7) position himself as the candidate of the grass roots. Sooner or later he will have to start participating in debates. How he performs will be crucial. He did not do well against Hutchison and Medina, and he does not respond well to criticism. Perry is a much better speaker than he used to be, but he isn’t a good debater. He is going to have to put in a lot of homework on national and international issues if he is going to score points in the debates. I don’t want to sell Perry short. He is very good on the stump. He should do well in Iowa where there is a substantial religious right vote. It will be tougher for him in New Hampshire. South Carolina should be friendly country, Florida less so. And the Midwest will be a tough nut to crack. The UT/Texas Tribune poll today was an eye-opener. Only 4 percent of Texans want him to be president. They like him as their governor, but they know he’s not ready to be president.
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