How Not to Run for President

Who do I support for President? I’m firmly in the “Not Romney” crowd. I passionately want to vote for a candidate. I’m sick and tired of picking the “least worst”. With each passing day though, the forces are aligning to anoint Mitt Romney the GOP standard bearer. If that’s what happens, my vote in the Pennsylvania primary will be meaningless and I’ll have the same enthusiasm to vote for Romney in 2012 that I had for McCain in 2008 – which is to say, none.

I’ll admit to being a fan of what I’ll term the “fictitious” Rick Perry, that is, the Rick Perry prior to announcing his Presidential run and his mind-boggingly poor debate performances. The campaign produced a fantastic video which would be even better if the candidate acted as confident and as tenacious as he’s portrayed 24-by-7.

I love this video, and yes, it makes me yearn for a candidate – perhaps Governor Perry – who is not afraid to attack President Obama, Mitt Romney, and the entire Republican establishment with every waking moment, breath, and sound out of their mouth.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Presidential campaigns, but I do consider myself at least versed in common sense. Governor Perry’s campaign thus far has shown none. Had I been running Governor Perry’s campaign, here’s what I would have done differently.


1) Debates
Anybody watching the GOP debates can see that the entire boring spectacle is designed to boost Mitt Romney. Some accounting of the debates show Governor Romney getting as much as 25% of the time, when there are eight or nine candidates there. The Perry campaign knew going in that their candidate is a poor debater. Sources friendly to Governor Perry even indicated that he doesn’t enjoy the debate process. What to do? Avoid the debates!

Wait, what? Don’t debate? Absolutely. The Perry campaign also had to know that their candidate would be instantaneously attractive to the “Not Romney” forces. They had to know that Governor Perry would instantaneously become one of the front runners if not the front runner. What would I have coached Governor Perry to say regarding the debates? Something like this:
The debate schedule and format is designed to make Governor Romney’s six-year quest to be the Republican nominee appear inevitable. Until such time as Governor Romney will agree to one-on-one debates, there is no point in participating in a process whose sole purpose is to benefit Governor Romney.
Establishment Republicans would have gone ballistic, and the grass-roots would have gotten even more excited about a Perry candidacy. That, in my book, is a win-win.
2) In-State Tuition
Another thing that Governor Perry’s campaign staff had to know was that their candidate was going to be vulnerable on illegal immigration with Texas’ providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The Perry excuse is to tout the overwhelming tally of the Texas legislature in support. What drives me nuts about that response isn’t that it’s correct, it doesn’t dispense with the significance of Perry’s support of the issue from a national perspective.
Governor Perry wrote an entire book, the central theme of which is the importance of the Tenth Amendment. It’s a very good read, by the way. The answer to the Texas’ in-state tuition should be a Tenth Amendment answer, which I’d phrase like this:
The decision Texas made to grant these individuals in-state tuition is precisely why the Tenth Amendment is important and why these issues should never be the purview of the federal government. As President, I will seek to reduce the impact of the federal government on the business of the states. Education policy is an area where the federal government has no enumerated power under the Constitution and should leave the states alone.

That turns Texas’ decision to grant in-state tuition into a debate on the role of the federal government and not what Texas did. Incidentally, the same stance could be used by Mitt Romney to help defuse Romneycare. (If it needed defusing, since all the other candidates seem determined not to criticize him on it.)
3) Taking the Message to the People
Since Tuesday, October 11th, the Perry Campaign has been hyping his “major” policy speech on his economic plan to be given in Pittsburgh or the surrounding area today, October 14th. The problem? It’s a private event. Pennsylvania will likely be a key battleground in the 2012 election. I can’t see a single formula for the New Soviet Man to get 270 electoral votes if he loses Pennsylvania. I’d have gone to see Governor Perry today if it was public, but alas. Why hype the location of an event if it isn’t open for attendance? If your candidate is best on the stump and with the people, get him with the people.

Can Rick Perry save his candidacy? Yes, but not without a lot of work to fill in the hole that he dug for himself by the missteps so far.

All that said, I’m still not wild about any of the “Not Romneys”. I like some things about Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum – but I have enough “not likes” or “unsures” about all of them too to not hitch my wagon to any of them. I’m still hoping to move to a “For Candidate” stance from the “Not Romney” stance.

Could be worse, I suppose. Jon Huntsman could be in front.

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