A shrewd statement pairing his record on border enforcement with a defense of Mexican-Americans, but like I said last week, it’s sad that a solid conservative who spent 15 years as governor of Texas needs a media war with Donald Trump to get voters’ attention. That’s life, though, in a universe where only the top 10 candidates in national polling make the cut-off for the first Republican debate. Perry’s right on the bubble in the RCP average, in ninth place with 3.8 percent with three other candidates less than two points behind and Kasich at 1.5 percent but set to get a bounce when he formally announces later this month. It’s entirely possible that Perry — and Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham, and maybe Chris Christie — will be edged out by the end of the July. Until then, it’s a war of all against all for those last spots onstage. Will Leitch:
This dynamic may explain some unusual moves by some of the bubble candidates, the sort of publicity-garnering events you wouldn’t ordinarily find at this stage. Ted Cruz is out there trying to go BuzzFeed-viral with (awful, but still sort of charming) Simpsons imitations. Rick Perry gives a speech saying Republicans need to court black voters, the kind of speech designed to make headlines but not necessarily appeal to voters in Iowa or new Hampshire. Bobby Jindal doesn’t just respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage; he flat-out says, “Let’s just get rid of the court.” These don’t appear to be the actions of people building a campaign, state by state: These are the actions of people trying to court national publicity. An argument could be made that someone like Cruz, whose allied super-PACS reportedly have $37 million, shouldn’t spend his money in Iowa; he should spend it buying national ads on Fox News. Ordinarily, it would be insane to do that at this stage, but right now, it’s about courting polls, not voters. If Cruz can bump up his name recognition, he can escape the bubble, make the debates, and then go about trying to actually impress voters. If you don’t have Cruz’s cash, you have to be like Jindal and Perry: Saying something designed for shock value, just so someone will notice you. The polls are now life. And attention is the oxygen.
In other words, the candidate most suited to this process is Trump.
The CW is that Republican candidates should ignore Trump so as not to “elevate” him as a serious candidate but he, more than anyone else, may hold the power right now to elevate them in the polls. That’s got to be part of the reason why Lindsey Graham keeps coming after him on immigration. I’m surprised, frankly, that Carly Fiorina hasn’t followed suit, as an “executive versus executive” war of words between her and Trump would be media catnip. She jabbed at him yesterday but only in response to questions from the press. Even if duking it out with Trump is worth only two extra points to her, those two points are the difference right now between making the debates and missing him. What’s she waiting for?