Via RCP, behold the second-most enjoyable Perry clip of the campaign. Only the Thinly Veiled Putdown Heard ‘Round the World was funnier. Had this gone on for a few more seconds, in fact, I think RP would have resorted to shushing him Dr.-Evil-style. A missed opportunity, my friends.
In case you missed it over the weekend, the story they’re arguing about was Politico’s insider piece on fingerpointing within Team Perry for his lackluster campaign. How lackluster? Well, go back and look at the tea-party snapshot from today’s PPP Iowa poll in the last post. He’s in sixth place among what was supposed to be his core constituency; even Mitt Romney fares better. Nate Silver wonders why:
The internals of the new Des Moines Register poll help to explain why Mr. Perry has struggled to gain traction despite an intensive focus on Iowa in recent weeks and a large advertising budget. The poll asked caucusgoers to identify which candidate they favored in nine categories, ranging from being the most consistent to the most likely to defeat President Obama.
Almost all the candidates had one or another of these factors working in their favor. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, was named the most knowledgeable, for instance, Mr. Romney the most electable, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas the most likely to reduce the size of government. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Rick Santorum, the former senator of Pennsylvania, rated well on the attribute of relating to ordinary Iowans.
Mr. Perry was the exception; he did not lead the field in any of the nine categories. For all his swagger, in other words, Mr. Perry is failing to stand out from the crowd. Despite spending $4.3 million in advertising, his brand has become poorly differentiated from the other Republican contenders.
For reasons I don’t understand, his big qualification — Texas’s jobs growth — never got traction. Is that because he didn’t sell it well or because he was constantly being thrown off-message, from the Gardasil exchange with Bachmann at an early debate to the gaffe about in-state tuition for illegals to the legendary “oops” moment? He has talked about jobs at the debates, of course, but there are so many other, more vivid memories of him from the trail (virtually none of them good) that they’ve submerged his record in voters’ memories. No wonder he switched to social-con pandering over the last few weeks. It’s a tough pitch given the competition from Santorum and Bachmann, but at least it’s a message.
After you watch the exchange with Mike Allen, watch his new attack ad against Santorum. Not sure why a guy with favorables like this would be throwing stones at someone else for being unelectable, but maybe he’s anticipating the CW to come. If Romney, Paul, and Santorum finish in the top three in Iowa, Perry’s last card to play will be that only he can beat Mitt in a marathon primary and therefore he, not Santorum, should be the conservative choice in South Carolina. I doubt it’ll work, but it would be all he has left. Ironic, though, that in making an electability pitch, Perry is at least momentarily forced to resort to the same core talking point that Romney relies on. Exit quotation: “Santroum on electability: Perry ran as conservative in TX, ‘how hard is that?'”