GOP nomination race probably returns to Perry vs. Romney

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 08, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy After the latest episode of As the Herman Turns, the race for the Republican presidential nomination is probably back to two.

Despite all his fumbles and failings, Gov. Rick Perry is on that list.

With Georgia Republican Herman Cain's lead lasting as long as a Kardashian marriage, the choice is mostly between two candidates with $15 million to spend: Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Sure, Perry's poll support is down to 10 percent.

But the important number is 18 -- the points between Perry and Romney.

Two years ago, Perry trailed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison by 25 points.

Then he left her spinning like Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars.

"Gov. Perry just got a huge break," said Richard Murray, a 45-year University of Houston political science professor.

"He has the money and he has a better organization," Murray said.

"The question is whether he gets people to forget those debates and videos."

Professors in Texas and Massachusetts agreed Tuesday that Cain will slip and that Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will gain.

"But Romney and Perry have the big moneybags," said Jerry Polinard, in his 40th year at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

"Money puts you on the airwaves. It gives Perry a chance to put the focus back onto his message."

While the cameras were on Cain, the pro-Perry Make Us Great Again PAC rolled out the first of $380,000 in TV ads in Iowa and South Carolina.

In the ad, Perry tells viewers, "I'm a doer, not a talker."

With Iowa delegates split seven ways and some religious conservatives now endorsing Rick Santorum, the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary is becoming Perry's beachhead.

"That's a wise move for Perry," said Jeffrey Berry of Tufts University, near Boston.

"He's failed to captivate the conservative base. But South Carolina is antagonistic toward Romney. Perry has the money to reinvent himself there."

Adam Schiffer of Texas Christian University explained that math.

"If you add up the 25 percent for Romney and if Cain gets 25 percent in South Carolina, that leaves half," he said.

"Perry can win."

His money can't do all the talking.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Twitter @budkennedy


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