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Rick Perry Almost Certain to Run in 2012


Is Texas Governor Rick Perry going to throw his ten-gallon hat into the ring this week?

All signs point to yes, including Perry's recent courting of key figures in Iowa politics. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad certainly believes Perry will enter the race, perhaps as early as this week.

“I get the definite impression he's very likely to run,” Branstad told The Associated Press on Saturday. Branstad and Perry had a lengthy conversation Friday, leading to speculation that Perry's entry in the race is a matter of when, not if.

Unlike some potential candidates, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Perry cannot afford to skip Iowa. This is why Perry has been courting Branstad and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, two names who could help Perry jump to the front of the pack in Iowa. Giuliani and Christie would almost certainly skip Iowa, where their relative moderate stances on social issues would not play well, and focus solely on new Hampshire, where fiscal issues are more prominent.

Perry's entry in the race complicates matters for a few of the big name candidates, particularly the two nominal front runners, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney. Bachmann has been running neck and neck with Romney in Iowa. If the field stays as it is, she has an excellent chance to beat the former Massachusetts governor in Iowa. Perry would change the entire GOP caucus calculus immensely.

Bachmann's candidacy has been fueled by Tea Party support. She speaks their language, talking about common-sense cuts to a government that has grown too large and spends too much. Her social conservatism plays extremely well in Iowa, particularly among the minority of voters who make up the GOP caucus goers.

Romney's entire rationale is that he is the most electable candidate who is tolerable to the most wings of the GOP. He may not come out and say it directly, but Romney is the "non-crazy" alternative to Bachmann. He represents business interests, and can speak directly to Wall Street and the corporate world. He'd probably run away with the nomination if he could prove he's not a RINO.

Without Perry, these are the two likely final contenders, along with Libertarian Representative Ron Paul. But with Perry, the rationale for Romney or Bachmann goes right out the window.

Unlike Bachmann, Perry can claim the Tea Party/cut-government-spending mantle while also appearing somewhat coherent. (Granted, he didn't actually balance the budget in Texas, and he has that slight problem of putting American soldiers at risk by executing a Mexican national who was denied his rights...although these may be positives in the primaries.)

He can also take her social conservative label, as he is leading a prayer-day event in August.

As for Romney, Perry can claim to be everything Romney is (electable, pro-business) while eliminating the negatives (might be a RINO, for example). Perry's baggage won't really be baggage until the general election, and by that time, dissatisfaction with Obama will have more to do with who gets elected than Perry (or any candidate's) specifics.

Perry won't be able to knock out either Bachmann or Romney simply by entering the race, and in fact, if he enters early enough, he may be doing both candidates a favor. Lowered expectations early on could help Romney claim a third or fourth place finish in Iowa isn't a big deal (especially if he can dominate in New Hampshire, where Romney will almost certainly establish a firewall).

And no one really expects Bachmann to be playing for anything other than a VP nod, so it's entirely possible she recognizes the limitations of her candidacy and angles for a Perry-Bachmann ticket.

The folks that Perry would really doom are the 5-7% marginal candidates at the bottom of the pack. Newt Gingrich is delusional enough to stick around even if he gets smoked in Iowa, but Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty would be dead as Dillinger if Perry jumps in. There would simply be no oxygen left in the room for either candidate to gain any traction in Iowa, and there is no way in hell either would get the nod in New Hampshire. By South Carolina, it would be too late for either Santorum or Pawlenty.

As far as Ron Paul goes, there isn't a lot of overlap between Paul's core voters (10% or so of the GOP) and the potential Perry voters. He will still be in the race, but will absolutely need a top two (maybe third, if he is polling first or second in New Hampshire) to have a legitimate shot at the nomination.

Overall, Perry jumping in vaults him into the top three (Bachmann, Romney, Perry) with Ron Paul knocking on the door. What will happen next? Stay tuned to Benzinga for updates and analysis of the 2012 election as they happen.

Posted-In: Michele Bachmann Mitt Romney Rick PerryNews Politics General Best of Benzinga


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