From Thursday night’s Fox News All-Stars.
On the new Fox News poll showing Rick Perry in the lead, but with 14 percent of all voters saying that he’s too extreme:
[The] question on extreme is a little bit leading, but nonetheless it tells you something. If you break down the number, the numbers are small, about five percent for Republicans [saying Perry is too extreme]. If you ask independents, it’s slightly higher. … 17 percent.
So it tells you he [Perry] has a problem. I know liberals will blow it up and rejoice over this. But this is a message he has to listen to himself. … One of his objectives has to be to soften the edges for the independents, because that is where the election ultimately will be won. If he stays at one-sixth of the independents that think he is extreme, he has an issue. But he has a year and a half to actually change that perception.
On whether softening the edges, as with Reagan who was seen as too extreme in 1979, is a problem or is manageable:
The analogy with Reagan is exactly right. But Reagan I think had less of a problem, because his was entirely ideological. So he could frame his arguments as a way to make himself less scary — in the end, obviously, he did.
With Perry, it’s in part ideological substance, but it’s in part cultural. It’s the Texas swagger, which is part of him — and because it comes three years after an unpopular presidency also by a Texas governor, it’s something he’ll have to work on, but it’s not something that you can actually change the way that you can shape and redefine ideas.
I think it’s a huge tactical error — the delay. I mean simply announcing in August when you have high unemployment and you’re in the Vineyard and you say, well I got a plan, I know what I’m going to do and I’ll announce it in two weeks or so after I play golf. It doesn’t ring right.
And now he’s raised the stakes so high that he has to do something, you know, of the stature, of the level of FDR and the New Deal. And he doesn’t have that in his quiver.
I do want to comment on the petty inside baseball stuff that my colleagues here have difficulty deigning to actually address. I’m happy to stoop to that level. …
I think Boehner actually did rescue the president on this one because he was stepping all over [the] Republican debate. It looked small and petty.
And now that the president acquiesced on the change of date, I think at least to independents — Democrats are upset because he caved, but Democrats will support him any anyway. The whole election will be about independents. And independents want to see one side be magnanimous. So, to the minuscule extent that it actually will matter, there’s a positive on his [Obama's] side.