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Perry’s next last chance to recover?

at 07:43 AM ET, 10/14/2011

Rick Perry will blanket the airwaves today with a series of media appearances and a speech on energy policy in Pittsburgh.

To call it a chance to recover what his campaign has lost would be fair. But it’s also fair to ask just how many chances he has left.

The media blitz is a rare thing in Perryworld, where the candidate has mostly been off-limits to the media and has avoided submitting to questions in general (even Fox News’ Sean Hannity has had a tough time landing an interview).

It’s clear that the campaign is trying new things and attempting to get its candidate out there in different — i.e. non-debate — settings. But does he still have a chance to make that comeback?

The consensus is largely yes, but that something needs to change.

“I don’t write Perry off yet, but they’re sure doing everything they can to screw up an opportunity that I believe they still have in the electorate this year,” said GOP strategist Mike Murphy.

The problem for Perry is that, in life and politics, first impressions are terrifically important. And Perry’s first (and second) impression on most people has been his subpar debate performances, in which the one major crux of his candidacy — his unfailing conservatism — was successfully called into question.

Those performances have registered with not just Washington opinion-makers, but also voters, who have dropped Perry quickly in the polls.

The NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll in June showed Perry’s favorable rating at 12 percent and his unfavorable rating at 15 percent. In the same poll released this week, his favorable rating rose to 19 percent, but his unfavorable rating was nearly twice that, at 36 percent.

That’s some serious early damage — especially when you consider that 22 percent of people say they feely strongly negative about the Texas governor.

The nature of the presidential nominating contest puts these debates long before the candidates begin honing their messages with ads blanketing the early states. And, while there is lots of time left, impressions can harden from these debates.

The Perry team’s early paid media offerings have been strong — particularly a web ad that ties Mitt Romney’s health care bill to President Obama’s — but he’s operating at a deficit, and needs to do something to suggest his campaign is going to recover sooner than later.

He’s failed to silence the critics of his debate performances with some continually rough performances. Today offers him a chance in a new forum. We’ll see if it can change anything.

Barbour touts Cain: Herman Cain would “sweep the South” if he was the Republican presidential nominee, former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour told raido host Laura Ingraham on Thursday.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, Barbour said, is a “straight-talking person ... who calls it like he sees them.” He added that if the election was today, his wife would vote for Cain.

High praise. Of course, the South is not the most competitive territory in a general election.

Potential boycott of Nevada: New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has some allies in his effort to push Nevada’s caucuses back a few days to make room in January for New Hampshire.

We wrote late Wednesday about how Gardner wants Nevada to move its caucuses from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 or later, to allow New Hampshire to compy with state law and set its primary at least a week before Nevada, on Jan. 10.

At least four GOP presidential candidates — former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich — have now said that they will boycott Nevada if it doesn’t move.

Romney’s campaign is making no such commitment, and is joined by Perry and Rep. Ron Paul in that regard. No word yet from Cain.

This should come as no surprise. Essentially, the four candidates threatening a boycott have not put forward much effort in Nevada and have much more at stake in New Hampshire, while the three candidates who have shown some strength in Nevada are resisting .

Given the fact that Romney won Nevada with more than 50 percent of the vote in 2008, though, we may have a pretty sleepy contest there anyways.

Fixbits:

Gallup shows a generic Republican now leads Obama 46 percent to 38 percent.

Ron Paul goes after Iowa’s social conservative vote with an ad about his personal experience with abortion.

Former senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) launches a super PAC.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — a former GOP congressman from Illinois — says he is done with elective office.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praises Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. And Cain likes Ryan as a potential vice presidential pick.

Anita Perry, meanwhile, isn’t a fan of 9-9-9.

Haley Barbour sounds skeptical on Romneycare.

Former Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) chief of staff Richard Hudson (R) will run against Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.).

An update on Senate and House fundraising numbers includes strong quarters from Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Cain says his campaign is debt-free, for what it’s worth.

New York state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries files to run in a primary against Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.).

Must-reads:

Twilight of the wise men” — Jacob Heilbrunn, Foreign Policy

Senate Republicans offer jobs package” — David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

Evangelical pastors divided ahead of 2012 caucuses” — Thomas Beaumont, AP

GOP isn’t sold on Romney, seeking other options” — Jennifer Agiesta, AP

 
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