The only chance for a comeback in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s struggling campaign seems to be the as-yet uncommitted evangelical voter, according to political experts. They say Perry must woo evangelicals while keeping credible in New Hampshire, a decidedly ambivalent state when it comes to value voting.
In Iowa, the Perry campaign has begun running ads aimed at the state’s socially conservative, evangelical base that make up about 37 percent of Iowa GOP caucus goers. Currently, Perry stands at 6.2 percent in Iowa polls, according to RealClearPolitics.com and comes in even lower in New Hampshire at 2.8 percent.
“Some liberals say that faith is sign of weakness. They’re wrong,” Perry exclaims in the 30-second ad that began running on Thursday in the Hawkeye State. “We all need God’s help...I’m not ashamed to talk about my faith.”
Kyle Kondik, a senior policy analyst at The University of Virginia Center for Public Policy, thinks Perry’s thread-the-needle strategy may be “too little too late.”
“Well, Perry’s first jump out of the gate was such as disaster that all he can do is ask for another chance,” Kondik told The Christian Post. “His poll numbers have sunk so low it’s hard to imagine be can recover at this point in the campaign, but hey, a few months ago Newt Gingrich was written off and now look where he is.
“Perry definitely has an uphill battle to regain frontrunner status, but this certainly has been an unusual election cycle,” Kondik added.
Perry desperately needs to move large numbers of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire into his column if he expects to compete with Gingrich as the leading alternative to Mitt Romney in important southern states such as South Carolina and Florida. Kondik does assert that Perry seems to be a more humble candidate than Newt – one with less of a “swagger” and someone who is saying, “Hey, I really am smart and can lead.”
He has a much larger campaign war chest – reportedly $15 million -- than the other two candidates seeking the evangelical vote – former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. However, attracting voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire not only requires deep pockets, but two complete unique strategies.
So what does Perry say to the New Hampshire GOP voter?
“I’m asking people to give me a second look,” Perry said in a Los Angeles Times interview while in California.
“If there’s one story out there that people are going to hear from me over the next 45 days, it’s like: ‘Listen, you took a look at me when I first got in here and, by reputation, you liked what you saw. We’ve had our bumps, we’ve had our hurdles, but give me a second look.’”
Perry, casually dismissing his absent-mindedness, remains confident when talking to voters in The Granite State. During an address at the New Hampshire state capitol earlier this week, he talked about labor issues, encouraging the state to pass right-to-work legislation.
“If you pass into law a right-to-work law, you may join my home state and take over the title of the state that’s creating more jobs in American than any place in the country,” Perry said to the legislature. “Unions have their proper role in America but you shouldn’t be forced to join one to feed your family. It should be your choice.”
Perry endured another slip-up later that same day while sitting down with New Hampshire business leaders, referring to New Hampshire “caucuses” instead of talking about the state’s “primary.”
And New Hampshire voters also are seeing ads where Perry talks about eliminating the Department of Energy – the same agency he could not remember during one of his dismal debate performances.
Admitting he’s prone to mistakes, smiling Perry said, “I did. Yep. I’ll do that from time to time.”