If Rick Perry wants to separate himself from the field and make this a two-man race, his window is closing. He brilliantly crafted the timing of his entry to maximize his own buzz against the “weak” front-runner status of Romney but since stumbling out of the blocks his campaign has been in free fall.
The same scenario that has made him the state’s longest Governor has left him woefully unprepared for the national stage. Virtually no competition, little media scrutiny and even less high-profile opposition. Even in his most recent primary challenge he was not attacked from the right. This has proven to be the soft underbelly of the man who has to this day never lost an election where his name appeared on the ballot. His policies on immigration regarding in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and his prior support for HPV vaccinations of minor girls have made him a target of the tea party, a group he has been credited with championing early on.
Money will always play a big factor and Perry has demonstrated the ability to raise it. In his 3 elections for Governor Perry has raised over $100 million. On the flip side for his presidential bid he has only raised about $18 million. This is enough to put him just behind Mitt Romney but as Michele Bachmann would say, “the devil is in the details”, as 49% of that also came from Texas. This reveals serious confidence issues outside the Lone Star State within Republican donors.
Perry is a fighter and he is not out of this one completely. He has funds to out last much of the field, however, time is money and the clock is ticking. The question remains if Perry can struggle through the intense debate schedule that has the candidates meeting almost once every 2 weeks until the February and March primaries. His tough campaign style and knack for retail politics works well in TV ads and Republican pep rallies but when he’s face to face against a formidable opponent his weaknesses become apparent. He needs an economic plan soon or he will be permanently sidelined with other “2nd tier” candidates. He must broaden his working knowledge of the greater American economy beyond the energy industry. His latest effort has been criticized as “over-coached” a symptom of his efforts to overcome critiques of prior debate performances as “unprepared”. He lacked the confident air of a states rights Governor championing the 10th amendment, who believed he truly had “the best job in the world”.