Perry pleads for second look in South Carolina

ANDERSON, South Carolina Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:02am EST

Republican presidential candidate and current Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses an Iowa Caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, January 3, 2012.   REUTERS/Samantha Sais

Republican presidential candidate and current Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses an Iowa Caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, January 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Samantha Sais

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ANDERSON, South Carolina (Reuters) - After rejection in Iowa and surrender in New Hampshire, Republican Rick Perry has pinned his fading presidential hopes on a long-shot resurrection in deeply conservative South Carolina.

But Perry, the Texas governor who jumped to the top of opinion polls when he entered the race in August, trails badly in a state that once seemed tailor-made for his blend of Christian faith and anti-Washington rhetoric.

"Give me a second look. Look at my record," Perry pleaded with voters in Anderson on Monday, the second day of a South Carolina tour that will take him up to the make-or-break January 21 presidential primary.

Perry finished a dismal fifth in Iowa's January 3 nominating contest and briefly considered dropping out of the 2012 Republican White House race before announcing last week he would skip Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and focus on South Carolina.

"I don't quit. I'm not about to quit on this country," he told a small crowd of supporters and diners at a restaurant in Anderson.

But a comeback will be hard in South Carolina, which has picked the winner of the Republican presidential nomination each year since the primary began in 1980. Polls show Perry, who once led the state by more than 20 points, in a distant fifth after a series of disastrous debate performances.

National front-runner Mitt Romney has surged into the state lead in the battle to nominate a challenger to President Barack Obama, and rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have moved ahead of Perry in the battle for conservative support.

"It's difficult to foresee any way Perry turns this around," said David Woodard, a Republican strategist who teaches at Clemson University in South Carolina. "Once you get stereotyped and dismissed, it's hard to overcome."

Perry and his advisers acknowledge the uphill task but hope to revive his campaign with a pitch focused on the state's high unemployment rate and aimed at its blend of evangelicals, military veterans and conservative Tea Party activists.


"In a jobs debate, hand's down he's the candidate," said Katon Dawson, Perry's state chairman. "We just have to work hard, tell our story and hope for the best."

Perry, who attends an evangelical church in Texas, has always made his Christian faith a big part of his public image, which could be an asset in a state where two-thirds of primary voters in 2008 attended church at least once a week.

On Monday, he focused on his goals of job creation and cutting spending, emphasizing his outsider status in Washington compared to rivals like Gingrich, a former House speaker, and Santorum, a former U.S. senator.

He also blistered Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, for his work at a private equity firm that critics say helped destroy jobs and companies, including some in South Carolina.

"There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is the way you do business," he said, calling it the "ultimate insult" for Romney to tell those suffering a job loss that he feels their pain.

Perry supporters in the Anderson crowd said they were won over by his faith and his record in Texas.

"I like his moral values. I also believe he could bring jobs back to America," said Barbara Hughes, a homemaker with two children.

Barbara Mattison, a health worker from Anderson, said she was drawn to Perry's simple style and humble roots in rural west Texas. "He's kind of a common man, and that's what I really like about him," she said.

Asked if she thought he could win South Carolina, she shook her head no. "I'm afraid," she said. "He started out big, but it didn't last."

Perry, who led Republican candidates in raising money in the third quarter of last year and spent more than $5 million on ads in the losing effort in Iowa, is already running television ads in South Carolina.

He organized his campaign in South Carolina early and plans to make three or four personal appearances a day around the state until the primary in a last-ditch effort.

"The Perry folks thought all along this was their state," said Barry Wynn, a former state Republican chairman. "So it makes sense to give it a try. If you run, you might as well get to the state you were focused on."

(Editing by Deborah Charles and Paul Simao)

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Comments (9)
Rio2010 wrote:
Perry is a Tea Party fiscal conservative. Perry has signed 6 balanced budgets in Texas and had to force the legislature to stay in session and gut millions of dollars from the budget and kept them from raising taxes. Much gnashing of teeth but Perry did not back down.

Perry had back surgery in late July and jumped into this race in August. Standing for 2 hours during the two early debates and perhaps pain medication did hurt Perry’s early performances. While no one gets a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression, it behooves Americans to choose the most qualified man for the job. Perry’s performances in the debates since he has recovered from his surgery have markedly improved. We are not hiring a debater-in-chief. I doubt seriously that Obama is all that the MSM has cracked him up to be. Ever seen any of his performances without his teleprompter? 57 states? Seeing dead veterans in the audience at Memorial Day events, Austrians speaking “Austrian”, repeating 3 times in one speech Navy Corpsman as Navy Corpse Men. I think gaffe for gaffe, Obama has plenty to point to.

Perry’s record compared to Obama’s is a no brainer winner! Texas created 1 million new jobs while Obama destroyed 2 million. Perry has 11 years of executive experience of the world’s 13th largest economy and created jobs and businesses are flocking to Texas. (Texas has gained 4 congressional districts during Perry’s term). Multi national corporations are moving more and more of their operations out of the US because of Obama’s EPA, SEC, NLRB and his corporate tax policies.

Make an informed decision and don’t let the left and the media into bullying you into a mediocre choice because you are afraid being called “dumb”. Stupid is as stupid does.

Rick Perry is the best qualified and most experienced man in this race. He is the right man at the right time to shrink this government and return us to the principles that were the original intent of our founding fathers that made this the greatest country in history.

Jan 10, 2012 8:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
Rio2010 wrote:
Rick Perry is the most experienced and best qualified man in this race. He is the only Tea Party candidate left in the field.

Rick Perry has 11 years of executive experience running the world’s 13th largest economy.

45% of all the jobs created in the entire United States in the last 2 years have been created in Texas due to Governor Perry’s policies of low taxes, low regulation and tort reform.

Texas has gained 4 congressional seats under Governor Perry’s tenure because businesses and jobs are flocking to TX.

While Barak Obama and the US lost 2 million jobs, Texas under Perry’s leadership created 1 million new jobs.

Governor Perry is the only person running that volunteered and served in the US military. This was Vietnam. NOT drafted. NO deferment. When his country called he stepped up to the plate. He attained the rank of Captain in the US Air Force.

Governor Perry is pro-life and has always been. He signed the Parental Consent Bill, the Sonogram law and the bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Texas causing 12 of their clinics to close.

Governor Perry signed the Conceal and Carry law in Texas and has an A+ rating from the NRA.

Granted his first two debates did not go well but he had just had back surgery in late July and standing for 2 hours and possibly pain medication hurt his performance. You never get a 2nd opportunity to make a 1st impression but it will be America’s loss if Governor Perry is not given the opportunity to accomplish for the country what he has accomplished for Texas.

Governor Perry has done an exceptional job of job creation and conservative leadership for 11 years in Texas. He has been re-elected Governor 3 times. He has been down by double digits and counted out before.

Rick Perry is not of Washington nor Wall Street which got us into this mess in the first place.

Rick Perry is the ONLY person in this race that is ALL three legs of Ronald Reagan’s conservative stool. Economic conservative. Social conservative. National Security conservative.

Jan 10, 2012 8:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
4ngry4merican wrote:
“He’s kind of a common man, and that’s what I really like about him”

The fact that people like this are allowed to vote is scary…

Jan 10, 2012 10:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
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