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.