2 years, 3 months ago
From Marc Thiessen:
Rick Perry may have jumped to the front of the GOP pack in national polls, but here in first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Mitt Romney still holds an 18-point lead. When I asked Romney about Perry during a recent campaign swing through the Granite State, he replied, “I don’t know what all of his positions are, you’ll have to ask him . . . I don’t spend a lot of time looking at [other candidates’] positions.”
That may be, but Romney’s campaign strategists are certainly spending a lot of time poring over Perry’s positions — and developing a plan to stop the surging Texas governor.
Romney has been criticized for refusing to engage Perry, but his campaign advisers see no need to do so now. They point out that the Democratic National Committee is going after Perry, hundreds of reporters hoping to make names for themselves are scouring his life and record, and other candidates that Perry has passed in the polls are determined to take him down. Why should Romney attack Perry directly when the Democrats, the liberal media and Michele Bachmann will do it for him? Romney’s strategists note that Perry will have to survive five debates in six weeks — ample opportunity for Bachmann to “rip his eyes out” (as she did to Tim Pawlenty) or for Perry to blow himself up.
If Perry fails to implode and continues to surge in the polls, Romney eventually will have to go on the attack — an assault his advisers say will commence “at a time of our choosing.” Romney strategists are quick to note that in his book, “Fed Up!,” Perry writes that “By any measure, Social Security is a failure” and calls the program “something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now” that was created “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”
Look at what happened to Paul Ryan when he proposed a plan to save Medicare, they say. Romney’s campaign will argue that Perry is against the very idea of Social Security and Medicare, and that he will use Perry’s book to scare seniors in early-primary states with large retiree populations, such as Florida and South Carolina.
Very bad idea. South Carolina is currently Perry country, but that’s not because Perry is untested, or Romney hasn’t yet gone on the attack, or the fact that Rick Perry has a Southern accent. These ideas are far too dumbed down to do S.C. and its people justice.
Governor Pawlenty dropped in the polls when he went on the attack against Michele Bachmann, Senator Santorum is still tanking even as he attacks Perry, and Huntsman’s attacks against Perry brought him absolutely no benefit (but to be honest, he wasn’t a serious contender anyway). Romney will drop in the polls when he goes on the attack against a fellow Republican. Watch it happen and remember that I predicted it.
I know something about S.C. When Romney swept into S.C. for the 2008 campaign he made some fatal mistakes. But first, let’s discuss Jim Anthony. Jim Anthony is a developer who promised the world and delivered problems to the people of S.C. He purchased huge tracts of land in the upper part of the state with borrowed money, gated it off to the people of S.C., and sold it to very wealthy people – people like Oprah Winfrey who is never there. This land was and is pristine, with flora and fauna not to be found anywhere else on earth. The people of S.C. used it for hiking, camping, hunting, shooting, and just about everything imaginable (without destroying or significantly altering the land). After Jim Anthony they will never see this land again. Jim Anthony is seen in S.C. as a robber baron. Just ask anyone in S.C.
Yet Mitt Romney’s sense of things brought him into S.C. and into a relationship with big money, and … you guessed it … Jim Anthony. While McCain shook hands with just about every veteran in S.C., Romney was seen across every TV screen in the state with Jim Anthony. Today Jim Anthony faces foreclosure on much of his property, and is now suing his bank and partners.
But whether Romney has the bad sense of things to hook up with Jim Anthony again, he did so in the beginning because he is a big money man. South Carolinians aren’t impressed with this. In fact, the strategy of invoking a government program is a bad, bad sign of his continued intransigence regarding his understanding of the South in general. If Romney is down in the polls enough that he has to go into S.C. with big government proposals, he is doomed.
In fact, Romney cannot win in S.C. It is impossible. And if Romney temporarily surges when he begins campaigning in S.C., all Governor Perry has to do is show up at the shooting range in Pickens County, S.C., where I often shoot, carry along some reporters with him, and then inform his fellow shooters that Governor Romney signed an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts (and would do so again).
Romney will be seen as a big government republican who opposes guns, and he won’t have the libertarian vote. He cannot win in S.C. Remember that I told you so.