Can Perry compete?

Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, might be easier to elect than to nominate. The reverse might be true of Perry. Is he a wine that will not travel? To win the White House, a Republican must be competitive among independents, including women, in places like Montgomery County outside Philadelphia. Perry — his accent, his Westerner’s body language, those boots — is proof that, in spite of the culture’s homogenizing forces, regional differences remain remarkably durable. But so, too, do regional antipathies, some of which have intensified as voters have become more polarized, partly because of a Texas governor who became president.

Obama will not win another term stressing his accomplishments, which consist of an unpopular health-care law, a failed stimulus and an anemic recovery. So Obama’s campaign must be relentlessly negative, decrying the Republican nominee’s “extremism.” Democrats have worked that pedal on the political organ frequently — successfully against Barry Goldwater, futilely against Ronald Reagan.

Supposed examples of Perry’s extremism evaporate in sunlight. One is that he intimated support for Texas’s secession from the Union. After people shouted “Secede!” at a rally, he said that he understood their frustration but added: “We’ve got a great union. There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it.” He signed a law requiring women seeking abortions to be shown sonograms of their babies. Do people objecting to this mandatory provision of information object to the new graphic warnings on cigarette packs?