“He’s building relationships in New Hampshire for the first time, and preparing in a way here he’s never done before,” says Michael Dennehy, who is advising the governor’s campaign there. “In 2011, Rick Perry parachuted into New Hampshire as someone who virtually catapulted to the front of the pack, and he never had the ability to start small, which is what you need to do in the early states.”
Perry has been taking the Granite State in small groups and embracing the hand-to-hand campaign style the state is known for. “There is not a better retail politician than Rick Perry,” says Dennehy, something the governor’s supporters and opponents invariably remark about him. Perry also stands out from the crowd as an Air Force veteran, which advisers say can appeal to the state’s 100,000 veterans.
“It’s a process that’s going to take a year of talking about Rick Perry’s record,” says Dennehy, who advised John McCain’s Granite State primary win in 2008. “It takes a full year of campaigning, and talking to voters intimately and directly.”
Iowa and South Carolina are more familiar territories for Perry, but the governor is still under pressure to clear the failures of his short-lived 2012 campaign and re-introduce himself to voters to show—not just tell—the lessons he has learned. In the early going, his efforts seem to be resonating.