The EFM Feature
Romney versus Perry

Elise Jordan has an article on National Review about how Gov. Romney should deal with Gov. Perry.  So far, she says, he is focusing on the President, hoping Perry will implode without any help from himself.  However, there are dangers to this line of approach.  She writes:

Perry knows how to campaign. He’s a career politician who has never lost an election. And while Romney worries about running against Obama, Perry is just worrying about running against Romney, which gives him the edge.

Romney’s people hope that by staying above the fray, they’ll allow Perry to implode. If that doesn’t work out, Romney might need to get more aggressive. And that will give him another set of problems — how to go on the attack without appearing to go on the attack.

Perry’s aggressive Evangelism (most recently evidenced in the form of a political prayer rally) is a huge turnoff to many of the independent voters he’ll need to secure the nomination. However, Romney won’t be able to go anywhere near that issue, as he already has enough problems with the Christian base because of his own religion.

The best avenue might be for Romney to go after Texas’s vaunted “economic miracle,” pitting Mitt’s business experience against Perry’s 27-year career taking paychecks from the government. Even that will have to be done deftly — the word “Texas” doesn’t have anywhere near the cringe factor as the word “Massachusetts.” But Perry will have a tough time making the case that he was the fiscal enforcer in Texas. The Texas constitution requires a balanced budget, so it was the legislature that kept the books out of the red, not Perry, whose interest in budgeting has been described by the Dallas Morning News as “political theater.” Specifically, the editorial noted Perry’s submission of a 15-page budget to the legislature with “line after line of zeroes.” Perry called his budget “historic” — and perhaps it was, for its fecklessness. As we’ve learned from Obama’s disastrous tenure, a skilled campaigner is no substitute for an effective executive.

But perhaps the best way for Romney to handle Perry, in the end, is to fight the Texan with a calculated kindness. To push opposition research in private, while publicly proclaiming what a great guy Perry is, what a great state Texas is, and what great energy Perry will bring to the race. To quietly undermine Perry with the backhanded complimentary language one bestows on a successful but somewhat rambunctious younger brother. If this doesn’t work, then Romney might very well be forced to come out and say what he really thinks: Hey, be nice, and I’ll make you my vice president.

What do you think is the best strategy?  It will be interesting to see how much traction Perry gains after his honeymoon period is over, and whether Gov. Romney must change modes in response.

Comments and Discussion

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7 Responses to How Should Gov. Romney Deal with Gov. Perry?

  1. Matt in Idaho says:

    His best strategy may very well be to let Palin handle him. Like many of you, I wonder if/when Gov Palin will announce her candidacy. As a truly conservative candidate, she won’t have to worry about Romney trying to look or sound more conservative (while I believe he is way more conservative than he gets credit for). However, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry will surely be up for the task. With 2 or 3 candidates fighting for the “I’m more conservative” spot, doesn’t this just help our guy in the end?

  2. David Walser says:

    Mitt should say: “When it came time to choose Ronald Reagan’s successor, Gov. Perry picked Al Gore while I supported George Bush. Do you want someone in the White House who thought Gore was more conservative than Bush? How would this lack of judgement be reflected in Gov. Perry’s judicial nominations? One of the major differences between Gov. Perry and myself is that I can tell the difference between a true conservative and a Good Ol’ Boy from the South.”

    Or: “As the Reagan Administration was ending, I voted for the continuation of his policies as represented by his Vice President, George Bush. Governor Perry thought Reagan had placed the country on the wrong track and worked to change that direction by trying to elect Al Gore. Governor Perry claims that was all a long time ago. Yet, he wasn’t someone still wet behind the ears. He was an experienced politician. You have to wonder about the judgement of someone who not only failed to recognize the rightness of Reagan’s approach, he actively worked against it. Unlike some, I welcome those who learn they were wrong and change their minds. In that spirit, I welcome Gov. Perry to our side. But, in any conversation about who’s the “true conservative”, remember that I supported Reagan while he was Reagan. Governor Perry didn’t support Reagan until he was a memory.”

      • Dan says:

        Great point! One of the most important things a president does is appoint people to the SCOTUS and the fed. bench. Romney has Bork and a host of other conservative legal scholars in his camp. One of the things that really impressed me about Mitt in 2008 was how many people who worked on the judges issue got behind him.

    • ccr says:

      Excellent points! Neither are below the belt……..just matter of fact! Calmly and confidently stated would certainly drive the point home!

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