I’m A Perry Guy, But I’m Looking Around Now…

…and I might be turning into a Gingrich guy.

I’m doing this because it’s starting to look like Gov. Perry just doesn’t have much of a chance to win at this point.

There are people out there talking about how fluid this Republican presidential race is, and how it’s entirely possible that Gingrich could implode and if he does the public might take another look at Perry.

I’d like to believe that’s true. I think Perry has done some good things in this campaign. He has a tax plan which looks like a great model for the GOP platform next year and an energy plan which ought to go into effect next year. And it’s difficult not to like a guy who’d do away with the Departments of Commerce, Education and Energy at the federal level.

I don’t understand Perry’s inability to articulate a policy on immigration that makes sense, though I do think he has one. He was on Megyn Kelly yesterday talking about the issue and it was a disaster. And I’m scratching my head about this current riff he’s on where he’s talking about making Congress a part-time body; it’s not that he’s got such a terrible idea there, but Lamar Alexander had it 20 years ago and went nowhere with it; there’s no groundswell for that and Perry needs a groundswell.

This guy has a great resume from Texas. He ought to be a frontrunner. But yesterday he polled at four percent.

Four percent. We’re less than six weeks from the first real vote and he’s at four percent.

I hear all this talk about how Perry’s got the entire political class from Texas going to Iowa to help get his vote out to those caucuses. That might help him; certainly if Perry can at least place or show in Iowa then he can get back in this.

But then I see what’s going on here in Louisiana and I throw my hands up thinking this thing is hopeless…

That Perry is fourth in Louisiana with only 11 percent, with less than half of Mitt Romney’s support and behind Herman Cain despite the abject nosedive Cain has taken in the last month, is striking. He governs the state right next door which has been stealing jobs and capital from Louisiana for well over a decade but particularly since Perry took over 10 years ago, plus he has the endorsement from our governor who just picked up 66 percent of the vote in his October re-election bid.

And he’s got 11 percent?

Perry ought to be leading in Louisiana, or at least in second a couple of percentage points back. He’s barely in double figures. I don’t know how he comes back from that.

Is it possible that Gingrich will fall apart and allow for Perry to get another look? Maybe. But I wonder if Newt does tank whether it wouldn’t be somebody like Santorum or even Jon Huntsman who gets his day in the sun – or if another candidate wouldn’t get into the race – rather than for happy days to be here again for the Texas governor.

We’ll see. I’d still be happy if Perry ended up riding to the top even despite some of the bellyaches his campaign has provided on the way down. Sarah Palin said he’s a constitutional conservative, perhaps the only one in the race, and I don’t disagree. I think Gingrich has some leanings in that regard and some leanings away from it; Newt’s path to victory is paved with articulating a constitutional approach to the future of federal governance, and he might be able to do that given his background as an American historian.

After all, Newt was the guy who wrote the foreword to Perry’s book Fed Up! That’s an indication of his leaning toward, or at least understanding of, smaller, limited government despite having dabbled in neoconservative, “compassionate conservative,” initiatives like Medicare Part D.

Like I said yesterday, swinging to Newt is something you do with your eyes wide open if you consider yourself a limited-government conservative. He has baggage. He’s brilliant and he has something of a Churchillian character to him, and he does have a record of successful conservative governance (a balanced budget, sensational job growth and welfare reform while working with a Democrat president as Speaker of the House) regardless of the warts associated with his time in Washington.

The question is whether he understands what the country needs and whether he’s willing to govern according to those needs as president. Right now the evidence points to yes, and that’s why he’s on the way up. It could change, of course. It’ll have to if Perry has any chance.

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