Rick Perry surged to the top of the polls in the week after he announced his campaign for president. He looked like the conservative alternativeA few months later, Mitt Romney is on the verge of winning Iowa.
How did that happen?
It’s very simple: Rick Perry never bothered to attack Mitt Romney. No one else did either.
In debate after debate, the more conservative candidates attacked each other or no one at all. The one time Rick Perry went after Romney directly, he flubbed it. “Was it — was before he was before the social programs, from the standpoint of he was for standing up for Roe v. Wade before he was against Roe v. Wade?” Perry stuttered in a September debate.
Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and others have spent millions of dollars on television ads in Iowa. Sometimes Ron Paul’s ads would lump Mitt Romney together with Newt Gingrich. But nobody put an ad out attacking Mitt Romney directly.
Holly Bailey of Yahoo News writes:
Just 20 per cent of the negative ads airing in Iowa targeted Romney, even as part of an attack on multiple candidates, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. By comparison, 45 per cent of the negative spots went after Gingrich—a statistic that explains, in part, why the former House speaker’s poll numbers in the state plunged in the final days of the campaign.
All those negative ads reminded voters that Gingrich was an egotistical, unconservative, undisciplined political figure. His poll numbers fell almost immediately. Everyone says that they hate negative political ads. But they work.
Rick Perry spent over $6 million on political television ads in Iowa. And, remarkably, none of them mentioned Mitt Romney’s flip-flops, his oily persona, his record as a down-sizer at Bain Capital, or his support of Obamacare’s individual health-care mandate. It was all just smiles from Rick Perry.
It’s as if the more conservative candidates focused entirely on attacking each other, thinking that if one of the rose to the top, they would beat Romney by default. They completely miscalculated the nature of the race.
And, just like every Republican primary, conservative voters will split their support among several candidates – while the candidate they hoped to avoid wins a plurality with ease.
The only candidate attacking Mitt Romney directly in a video spot is Jon Huntsman.
But Huntsman hasn’t aired these effective videos on television – and he wouldn’t run them in Iowa anyway. The Huntsman campaign has simply released them on the internet.
An ad like this could have pushed Romney down into the low teens tonight – if anyone bothered to air something like it.
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