The Texas tea party’s revolt over Rick Perry’s immigration stand is, well, revolting. I seldom agree with Perry, but he is right this time–right in a moral sense, but wrong politically. Building a wall will not make Texas a better state. Denying scholarships to the children of immigrants will not make Texas a better state. Calling a special session to pass a sanctuary city law, whose sponsor, Burt Solomons, said “does nothing,” would not make Texas a better state. It’s hard to imagine that the Republican Party is too far to the right for Rick Perry, but that may be the case, as astonishing as it seems. Perry is counting on Hispanic votes to elevate him to the GOP nomination and the presidency, but openly courting Hispanics could result in an erosion of his tea party base. The Perry campaign does not appear to be a smooth operation. I’m not forecasting doom and gloom. He’s still in great shape in the polls. He has forged a large constituency. But he is running this race as if he were running for governor in Texas, almost as if he were the incumbent. He hasn’t adapted to the format of a primary race, which is like an audition for a movie role: Multiple contestants are more or less reading from the same script, and everything depends upon how well you deliver your lines. Perry is not very nimble in this sort of format, and he has been forced onto the defensive. As a consequence, he has gotten away from his primary message of jobs and has been sidetracked into social issues like HPV. Perry hates to be on the defensive, he hates not being in control, and he can’t stand to be outflanked on his right. His campaign hasn’t figured out how to get him back on message. Something is lacking in the chemistry of the campaign, and maybe the campaign team as well.
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