Here’s a quote from Politico‘s Jonathan Martin, which captures the view of most “insiders” in Washington, DC, regarding the presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry.Martin writes: “Perry’s comment (about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s “treasonous” behaviour) is exactly the sort of misstep that will worry the many GOP donors on the sideline right now who chiefly want to beat President Obama. The quote reinforces their central fear about Perry — that he has a cowboy problem — and could prompt them to remain uncommitted.”
This is accurate. It’s also irrelevant.
It’s irrelevant because the “GOP donors on the sideline right now” don’t matter. They think they matter, but they don’t.
The fact is that Rick Perry can raise $15-20 million out of Texas for his presidential campaign. He will, after all, either be governor of Texas or President of the United Sates when the campaign is over in November of next year.
He can raise another $40 million from evangelical networks across the country. If you budget $10 million for Iowa and $15 million for New Hampshire and $20 million for South Carolina, you have $10-15 million left over for national campaign operations.
If Perry wins Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, he’s the nominee. If he wins Iowa and South Carolina, he’s the nominee. If he loses Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s done. So, he really only needs enough money to be fully competitive in those three states. If he wins two or three of those states (and thus becomes the de facto nominee), all the Republican money in the world will contribute to his campaign, if only as a hedge.
“GOP donors on the sideline right now” misunderstand the dynamics of the party’s increasingly populist primary electorate. They’re not angry about Wall Street bailouts and financial industry recklessness, they’re livid. No one bailed them out. All they got was the bill.
Perry understands this populist fury better than most. It’s why he launched on Bernanke. It’s why he is branding Mitt Romney as “Bain Capital.” He’s hitting all the high populist notes and not “walking back” any of it when invited to do so.
Perry so far has navigated the GOP primary/caucus electorate with considerable skill for someone relatively new to national politics. His appeal to evangelicals (at “The Response“) was masterful. His announcement rhetoric and subsequent commentary has been shrewd. If he keeps playing at this level, “The Money” will come to him. They’ll come running.
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