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A Rick Perry comeback? It all rides on Iowa now.

Rick Perry's strategy now amounts to betting everything on Iowa, where he launched a bus tour Wednesday. Newt Gingrich shows slippage in the polls there, but the field remains open.

By Staff writer / December 15, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (2nd l.) stands with other GOP presidential candidates prior to a debate Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

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A Rick Perry comeback?

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At this stage, that seems unlikely. But Politico is reporting that internal polls from both Mr. Perry and Mitt Romney find significant slippage in Newt Gingrich's Iowa standing. And Perry is one of the beneficiaries.

"I believe [Ron] Paul can trip up Newt here, and that's great news for Romney because Newt is done if that happens," one Iowa caucus-watcher told Politico. "Watch Rick Perry. He's going for a top-three finish, and that could be to Romney's expense."

Perry's strategy amounts to betting everything on Iowa, where he's making a major push, despite being stuck in the low double digits in the polls. His controversial antigay-rights ad – which went viral, mostly for negative reasons – actually seems to be helping him there. As is Mr. Paul's all-out assault on Mr. Gingrich.

(And just in case you're not paying enough attention, Perry is one of those arguing he's due for a bounce. His campaign just released an ad titled, yes, "Momentum," that weaves together debate clips, quotes from pundits, and a clip of wild horses galloping to argue that's just what his campaign has.)

On Wednesday, Perry launched an Iowa bus tour in Council Bluffs, labeling himself "a conservative fighter" as he prepared to swing through more than 40 cities in two weeks.

It's hard to imagine Perry's bus tour doing more than giving him a modest rise in the polls, but that may be all that's needed to shake up an already shaken Republican primary race. Given that the caucuses are less than three weeks out, what's most notable is how wide open the GOP field still is.

You can now find reputable news sources spinning the polls and the trends to say that things look good for Mr. Romney, Gingrich, Paul (who some believe might even eke out an Iowa win), Perry, and even Jon Huntsman Jr., who is currently polling about 3 percent nationally and isn't competing in Iowa. (If you're a Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann fan, sorry. The field isn't that wide open.)

Unless he has a fourth-place finish in Iowa and underperforms in New Hampshire, the biggest beneficiary of all the turmoil may be Romney. True, he has a problem convincing three-quarters of Republican primary voters to support him. But if those voters can't find another candidate to rally behind, his consistency – even though it's often a second-place consistency – may be what wins the day.

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