Tales from the Trail

Perry vs. rivals in Republican debate

There were eight candidates in the first big Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season.

Two of them dominated the stage from the start in a contest over who has created more jobs.

And the winner is…..  Mitt Romney, according to his campaign.

“Mitt Romney won tonight’s debate because he demonstrated that he is the only candidate in the race who can return the country to economic prosperity. Career politicians got us into the mess and it will take someone with experience in the real economy to get us out,” the campaign’s communication director Gail Gitcho said in a statement released after Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,  California.

While the  former Massachusetts governor’s campaign claimed victory,  Rick Perry was  the man in the spotlight.

All eyes were on the Texas governor as he made his debut on the national stage — and when it was over  Perry said in a post-debate statement he was pleased to have been able to introduce his “conservative philosophy and pro-jobs record to the American people.”

Big campaign bucks don’t always spell victory

Expectations for massive fund-raising in the 2012 election may obscure one point — big bucks don’t always lead to victory. And in fact, too much spending — especially in the form of too many advertisements — can turn off voters.

There have been several notable examples of heavy, but ultimately fruitless, outspending in recent elections.

In the 2010 midterms, Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money, or about $43 per vote,to campaign for governor against Democrat Jerry Brown.  Brown spent $7.50 per vote to defeat her by 12 percentage points, in a race that was a rare bright spot for Democrats in elections that saw most Republicans sweep to victory.

Tea party boosts Perry to top of GOP polls

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vaulted into the lead among Republicans vying for the nomination to oppose  President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, according to several new  polls. And he may have the Tea Party to thank for it.

A CNN/ORC International poll released  Monday showed Perry strongly favored by Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican. Among the declared candidates, Perry has 32 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 12 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 6 percent and the rest of the field in the low single digits.

This could reflect shifting allegiances among Tea Party supporters, according to Gallup, which released its own poll last week also showing that Perry had replaced Romney as the early front-runner.

Perry, Bachmann shine star power at Iowa dinner

Newly-minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (and his black campaign bus)  rolled into Waterloo Sunday, where the Texas governor made a  campaign pitch to Iowa voters.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann showed up at the same event. They weren’t on stage together but Perry ending up sharing the spotlight.

Perry spoke first at the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner and acknowledged another Republican presidential hopeful in the room, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum .

Governor Perry’s call to prayer

Financial debt. Terrorism. Natural disasters — all big problems for the United States.

Texas  Governor Rick Perry,  a potential Republican presidential candidate, thinks prayer might help.

“There is hope for America… and we will find it on our knees,”  Perry says in an invitation to fellow Americans to join him for “a solemn gathering of prayer and fasting” for the country in August in Houston.

GOP presidential field – looking Perry promising?

With polls showing President Barack Obama beating any current 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, some party leaders are casting around for additional contenders, especially those who are well-known and might appeal more to the party’s most conservative wing.

One name that has come up repeatedly is Texas Governor Rick Perry, a conservative Republican and rising star in the Tea Party movement who fueled speculation last year that he might run for the White House by going on a national tour to publicize his book “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” which takes aim at what he sees an intrusive and expansive federal government.

Perry has in the past emphatically said he will not run, but he more recently has seemed to be leaving the door slightly open by saying for now he is focused on Texas’ legislative session, which ends on May 30.

Texans see red in controversy over federal aid for wildfires

When President Barack Obama stepped off  Air Force One in El Paso, Texas, Tuesday, one politician who was conspicuously absent was the state’s governor, Rick Perry.

The outspoken Republican stayed away from Obama’s welcoming ceremony amidst some intimations that the Democratic president was bringing politics into the way his administration authorizes aid to states facing natural disasters.

Texas has been suffering from severe drought and has been fighting wildfires that have consumed more than two million acres. While Obama has issued federal disaster declarations for many states hit by severe weather in recent weeks – tornadoes and floods have besieged much of the U.S. south – he has not done so for Texas, which has inspired some critics to question whether Obama has shunned the state because it is very strongly Republican.

2012 may be an open door for Palin, but first comes 2010

USA/Sarah Palin’s right. It would be absurd for her not to consider a White House bid in 2012, especially while Tea Partiers are chanting, “Run, Sarah, run!”  
   
But first come this November’s elections, which could help build Palin’s credibility if her high-profile public appearances (and repeated attacks on President Barack Obama) actually help conservative candidates get elected to Congress and important state offices around the country. If.

Some political experts say Palin’s weekend keynote speech at the big Tea party in Nashville was her best since the 2008 GOP convention — detailed, focused and high on energy. Lucrative, too, given the $100,000 speaker’s fee, though the on-stage interview seemed a bit scripted, especially the part about what she’d do if she were president. 
       USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORM
The appearance also kicked off a busy travel schedule to help candidates in this year’s campaign.
   
On Super Bowl Sunday, she was in Texas helping Republican Gov. Rick Perry with his March gubernatorial primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Polling results show Hutchison trailing the incumbent by 15 percentage points and losing ground to a third candidate, Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

Palin spent much of her time in the Lone Star State assailing Washington, and by implication, Hutchison. She raised a huge cheer by pointing out in non-establishment fashion that Texans might like to secede.     
    
But moving the national political applause needle to the right in 2010 could be much more difficult than rallying friendly audiences or using a talking hand to bash that “charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer.”
   
A state-by-state analysis of Obama’s job approval ratings by Gallup may offer a glimpse of the voter sentiment challenge that Palin and her conservative allies face this year.