Texas Gov. Rick Perry is pretty much done for if he finishes too poorly in Iowa, where he has spent far and away the most of any candidate. Politico’s Mike Allen reports that “Rick Perry is the king of the airwaves,” having spent about $2.9 million on ads in December alone. His super PAC has spent an additional $1.3 million.
Yet in the CNN-Opinion Research poll released Wednesday, Perry is in fifth place in Iowa at 11 percent. In RealClearPolitics’ average of Iowa polls, Perry is in fourth, with 12 percent.
Perry’s days are numbered if he spends more than $4 million in ads alone in a rural state where Christian conservatives play a strong role, only to come in fourth or fifth. Unlike Rep. Ron Paul, who has a rabid fan base to keep him going, or Rick Santorum, who is on the upswing, it’s hard to see the rationale or the means by which Perry could keep going after such a disappointing result.
After his big entry into the race, Perry made a series of errors from which he’s never recovered. He frittered away his time at the center of media attention on a vapid campaign. His first team didn’t prepare him for debates, use his time wisely or set up a solid ground game in early states. The voters moved on, and he’s never turned in a debate performance, generated a policy idea or put out an ad sufficiently impressive to give them reason to return.
If Perry is out after Iowa, he will return to Texas a diminished figure. His immigration policy has incurred the ire of the base. His crony capitalism and big spending on himself (on housing and travel, and now his security detail) don’t sit well with Tea Partyers. Fortunately for him, he won’t be on the ballot again until 2014, if he chooses to run again.
Perry might consider doing what Sarah Palin never did: Hit the books, learn some policy and restore his reputation. If he does that and helps elect Republicans around the country, he might have another shot at the presidency.
— The Washington Post