Perry’s Really Pushing This ‘Outsider’ Thing

Here’s a new Rick Perry ad accusing Gingrich and Romney of being “insiders” and hitting them for raising debt ceilings and taxes.

If he’s going to take this tack, he needs to do a foreign policy ad to go with it that differentiates him from Ron Paul. Because the insider/outsider thing is Paul’s territory (not among Paul’s cult of personality, so much, but the casual Ronulans who like him on economic policy and are susceptible to the “Newt is a progressive just like Obama” stuff that’s been cooked up lately). There’s a big chunk of the electorate out there who like Paul’s small-government libertarianism and want somebody who isn’t “establishment” but aren’t comfortable adopting George McGovern’s foreign policy.

Perry would be the natural option for those folks. That might underlie the slight bump he’s getting in the polls in the last week or so.

It’s not terrible to paint himself as an outsider, though. It’s a way to say “Hey, I’m not Bush. I might sound like him and I might stink on TV like he did, but Bush was Establishment and those people think I’m a shitkicker.”

The problem is that you have a lot of people who agree with the Establishment that Perry is a shitkicker. And I don’t know how you get past that if you’re Perry’s camp. He could go out of his way to come off as educated and urbane, but that will probably look fake. He could show a sense of humor about being an Aggie from Texas A&M, but the problem there is not only will they think you’re a shitkicker but a clown as well.

Perry would do really well to find a bunch of corporate CEO types – not the hired gun fatcats who run corporations, mind you, but the entrepreneurs who built small businesses into big corporations – to start endorsing him. The message being that “this guy understands the role of government in a strong economy is largely to get out of the way, and that’s what we need in Washington if we’re going to get out of this mess.” That might be the best way for him to come back as a viable conservative alternative to Romney, who then comes off as the Wall Street money-mover inside baseball guy.

Of course, this all depends on Gingrich imploding. Gingrich is dropping, but we’ll see where his floor is. If he still wins Florida and South Carolina despite the beating he’s taken in the last couple of weeks, then it’s going to be tough for Perry to gain traction.

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