Rick Perry’s attention has mostly been on the border crisis, which keeps him at home in Texas while raising his national profile considerably over the last few weeks. Perry has put that profile to use far from home, in a key state for presidential ambitions, confronting Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on behalf of her midterm Republican challenger Scott Brown for the US Senate race in New Hampshire over immigration. The intervention in New Hampshire has potential ramifications beyond November 2014, too, as John DiStaso notes for the New Hampshire Journal:
In a move with laced with ramifications not only for this year’s mid-term election, but also possibly for the 2016 first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Texas Gov. Rick Perry later today will weigh in on the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire for the second time in less than week.
Perry, who is seriously considering a second run for the White House, will join state Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn on a media conference fall to discuss, the NHGOP says, “the failed Obama-Shaheen border security policies.”
Perry appeared last week on WGIR-AM radio and told “New Hampshire Today” program host Jack Heath he was not surprised that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stopped short of criticizing President Barack Obama for not going to the border to observe the crisis there when he recently went to Texas for fund-raisers.
“She votes with President Obama 99 percent of the time,” Perry said on the radio station. “If (Granite Staters) like what they see coming out of the White House, then Senator Shaheen is who they need to vote for.”
Brown can use the help. The Real Clear Politics average for polls in the Granite State put him down ten points against Shaheen, 50/40. Only one poll in the last month puts Shaheen’s support at less than 50%, and none has Brown above 42%. That might not be a bad level for an unknown challenger, but that’s not Scott Brown, whose profile has been high in the region since winning a surprise victory in 2010’s special election in Massachusetts for the Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.
Brown needs a game-changer, and it’s interesting to see his campaign reach out to Perry for a couple of reasons. First, New Hampshire’s GOP tends to lean more toward the libertarian side, and Perry just got into a big dust-up on foreign policy with Rand Paul, the leading national voice for libertarian policy in the Republican Party. Paul’s views on immigration are less supported within the party, however, and the Brown campaign wants to pivot to the border in an attempt to tie Shaheen to the border crisis. The question will be whether immigration really is a game changer in New Hampshire, and whether Perry’s the man with whom Granite State voters will identify with the solution to it. So far, though, Perry seems to be the only leader in national politics taking action of any kind on the issue, and Brown wants to ride those coattails to see how far it may take him. (Being ten points back with three months to go makes a gamble like this more rational too.)
Perry doesn’t plan to just offer his help from long distance, either. He will travel to New Hampshire in three weeks to work on his own prospects for 2016 in a state that otherwise may not be a natural fit for the Texas governor. His brand of retail politics will sell well in the other presidential-sweepstakes entry state, Iowa; he wowed crowds when he first jumped into the 2012 race by upstaging Michele Bachmann in Waterloo, prior to flaming out in the debates. If Perry has New Hampshire on his radar already, this effort may say more about 2016 than 2014.