Perry to launch massive Iowa push

Can Rick Perry recapture the magic in Iowa?  His team will spend $1.2 million to find out next week, “saturating” the airwaves, according to National Journal:

Perry’s campaign has purchased $1.2 million in airtime over the next four weeks, a source familiar with the ad markets said Wednesday. And new details of the spots he’s purchased show his team will pour at least $653,000 into Iowa television and radio this week alone.

The major spending is a sign of life for a candidate whose poll numbers have dropped precipitously. After a series of debate flubs send his supporters fleeing, Perry’s early fundraising success is proving a pivotal chance for the candidate to reconnect before a critical contest. Perry’s campaign raised $17.2 million during the first month and a half of his bid, and by the end of September he had just over $15 million left in the bank.

Perry has purchased 7,762 gross ratings points in three Iowa broadcast markets for advertisements running through next Tuesday, December 13. A 2,000-point buy in a single media market is considered saturation-level; Perry has purchased more than 2,000 points in all three markets, according to data provided by a Republican watching the Iowa ad market and confirmed by other ad buyers.

Perry was a hit with Iowa voters when he first entered the race in August, but a series of disastrous debate performances derailed his campaign and allowed Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich to steal his thunder.  However, the same qualities that first gave Perry a boost could still be enough to give some caucus-goers a reason to give him a second look — and may already be doing so. The most recent WaPo/ABC poll showed Perry rebounding back to double digits in Iowa, although still trailing in fourth place behind Gingrich, Romney, and Paul.  Perry’s long executive experience in Texas and his jobs record, as well as his ability to connect to mainly rural voters on a personal level, could position him for a bigger comeback.

As I wrote earlier, there may still be room for another boomlet in this race, although the time is growing very short for it.  The Tea Party’s support of Newt Gingrich seems more related to his debating abilities and the notion that voters have run out of legitimate not-Romneys than his track record on policy.  The best-positioned candidate on policy would be Michele Bachmann, but Perry might have the edge with his executive experience and job-creation record — if, and this is a mighty big if, voters could convince themselves that Perry has improved enough in a short period of time to avoid the kind of debate debacles Perry experienced this fall.

Perry has one advantage over Gingrich at the moment, which is his campaign war chest, and he’s putting that into play.  We’ll see whether Iowa voters are willing to risk supporting a candidate whose legendary flame-outs made him look like a bad bet just a few weeks ago.