For Rick Perry, this could be the start of something big . . . or the pinnacle for his campaign.
Shortly after announcing his official candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as rank-and-file Republicans’ current favorite for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17%.
Since the year began, we’ve heard yearnings for another candidate, and little boomlets of buzz for several other figures — Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan. In a year when the “generic Republican” surged ahead of Obama before any of the specific candidates did, a certain number of Republicans looked at the earlier field and wanted a standard-issue conservative governor. (For some reason, Tim Pawlenty didn’t seem to fill that need.)
Mitt Romney could well turn out to be the GOP nominee, but a certain percentage of the Republican base doesn’t trust him and deems him incapable of drawing a clear distinction between his health-care plan and Obamacare. Ron Paul will always be an acquired taste (but less uncommon than in 2008). Michele Bachmann brings a lot of style and rhetorical firepower to the trail, but she’s comparably inexperienced, as is Herman Cain. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum look like aging quarterbacks, only able to muster occasional glimmers of their past stardom. And Jon Huntsman remains a candidate with a sterling set of life experiences yet little ability to win over grassroots conservatives.
Enter a candidate who has won repeatedly against a variety of opponents, who can point to comparable economic prosperity, who has a reputation for toughness, and who is clearly willing to tear apart the Obama record (and apparently Bernanke’s too, if needed).
Nature, and Republican primary voters, abhor a vacuum.