“Aided by strong tea party support, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has surged in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, pushing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney into second place and significantly diminishing the once-rising star of Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
“Perry is enough of an untested national campaigner — and debater — that it may take weeks to determine his staying power as a candidate. But the new poll findings foreshadow a potentially fierce competition between the two top Republicans, a contest likely to highlight ideological and demographic divisions within the party.
“Among all Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, Perry has edged ahead with 27 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 22 percent, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin at 14 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) with 8 percent and Bachmann at 6 percent.”
“A generic Republican candidate earns the highest level of support to date against President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up for the week ending Sunday, September 4.
“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds the generic Republican earning 49% support, while the president picks up 41% of the vote.”
“Rick Perry’s record on immigration isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s worse! … It’s not just that he doesn’t want to build the border fence. Many fence opponents argue (though I disagree) that it’s far more important to take away the ‘jobs magnet’ that lures illegals to try to cross the border in the first place. But Perry hasn’t supported the quickest, best way to take away the jobs magnet, which is to require all private employers to use the ‘E-Verify’ electronic check of Social Security numbers. Perry wouldn’t even require his own state government to use E-Verify, let alone private employers, declaring ‘E-Verify would not make a hill of beans’ difference when it comes to what’s happening in America today.’….
“And the fence and E-Verify are the easy part of this issue. They are the ‘stripped down basic package’ of enforcement provisions outlined by immigration-control advocate Mark Krikorian. The hard part is getting a candidate–especially a pro-business GOP candidate–to promise, in a binding way, that in the future he or she won’t, under pressure from business and Latino leaders, accept some sort of premature legalization (i.e., amnesty)…
“With Perry it’s especially difficult, though, because Perry has seemingly already endorsed legalization under the guise of a “guest worker” program (the same trick tried by George W. Bush)…”
“Confident and folksy, Perry has a talent for coming across as sincere, staying focused on his key themes and answering the questions he wants to answer rather than the ones he’s been asked. He never, ever backs down: In four hours of debates spanning three campaigns, all of which focused on knocking the incumbent — Perry — off balance, not once did he admit error, express regret or acknowledge the merits of criticism.
“But Perry’s greatest strength, his poised self-assurance, can also be his weakness. When he goes astray, it is by hamming it up, overdoing the cowboy act at the expense of specifics and appearing arrogant and glib…
“That 2010 debate — the first of two GOP primary debates featuring Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and tea party activist Debra Medina — was unquestionably the biggest debacle of Perry’s debating career. Practically strutting across the stage, grinning broadly and tweaking the moderators, he came across to many as gratingly unserious — a ‘jumpy, fidgety frat boy,’ Medina said at the time.
“Faced with unfriendly specifics from a moderator, Perry refused to acknowledge they were true and grew testy: ‘I don’t know how to explain this to you any simpler,’ he growled. At another point, rather than acknowledge Hutchison’s critiques, he blustered, ‘Is it my time to ask a question now?’ erupting into an enormous grin, laughing and bobbing back and forth. Some commentators thought the fact that Perry’s condescension was aimed at two female opponents made it all the more damaging.”
“Rick Perry has an economic plan that fits on the fingers of one hand. With his other hand he’s throwing punches. This weekend Perry said Romney didn’t create many jobs as governor. He defined Romney’s private-sector experience as creating jobs overseas. A few weeks ago, Perry reflected on their life experiences and concluded that he came from the real world: ‘I didn’t work at Bain capital. I didn’t work on Wall Street.’ Three attacks—on competence, class, and country of origin. The best rebuttal Romney could offer: Unlike Perry, he’s not a career politician…
“This isn’t just about scoring cheap political points (though, alas, that is what campaigns are about). It’s about winning the argument at the heart of the GOP primary. The competition in the GOP race is about which man has the better set of skills for improving the economy. So far Romney has acted as if it is self-evident that his private-sector background makes him the better candidate. It hasn’t worked. What’s he going to do about it? There’s been a lot of talk about leadership in Washington recently. How Romney responds now will tell us something about his leadership style. Will he take action in defense of his central campaign claim? Will he rebut Perry and make a stronger case for the skills he has, or will he let events and others shape the field? Will he lead, or lead from behind?”