Perry, the one-time Republican presidential front-runner whose campaign torpedoed after a string of poor debate performances and public speaking gaffes, has turned to one advantage he has to pull himself back into contention: his money.
One of the strongest fundraisers in the field, Perry has bought at least $1.6 million worth of television advertisements in Iowa through Sunday, more than any other candidate. About three-quarters of that has been on negative spots attacking his opponents, according to an analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG.
That has bestowed on Perry an air of dominance in the state. But it is not clear whether his ubiquity on the airwaves will push him back into the front of the pack. With only days until Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, the question is whether Iowans will give Perry the second chance he is seeking.
“I’m asking you to vote your conservative values, values I learned growing up in a little place called Paint Creek,” Perry told about 100 voters at Doughy Joey’s in Waterloo on Friday. “Some talk a good game, but I’ve delivered.”
On the stump, Perry’s pitch sounds like a kitchen-sink variety of the lines he utters in his commercials. He says he’s an outsider not corrupted by the influences of Washington who would make Congress a part-time institution. He says he’s an Air Force veteran who would grow the military and take it to a nuclear Iran. He says he’s an opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights who quotes the prophet Isaiah.
A new NBC-Marist poll shows Perry’s support growing to 14 percent, a statistical tie for third place with former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a surging Santorum. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney led with 23 percent, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 21 percent.
Perry is in a race with Gingrich, Santorum and, to a lesser extent, Bachmann to finish in the top tier here and remain a viable candidate heading into the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. To that end, he has branded those three as “Washington insiders,” assailing them for their records in Congress.
“You have to ask yourself, we’re gonna replace a Democrat insider with a Republican insider, you think it’s gonna change anything in Washington, D.C.?” Perry told about 100 voters in Waterloo on Friday.
It’s a message calibrated to appeal to Christian conservatives and tea party activists. Judging by the applause he received, it’s going over well. But the question folks are asking as they take Perry’s stock is whether he’s a flawed messenger.