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Sat Jan 21, 2012, 02:20 AM

The Only Culprit in Rick Perry's Collapse Is Rick Perry

The Only Culprit in Rick Perry's Collapse Is Rick Perry

By Eileen Smith
The Atlantic
Jan 20 2012, 11:06 AM ET 12



Rugged good looks and an initial burst of accolades were never going to make up for
the candidate's hubris and mushmouthed performances.


(Eileen Smith is the editor of the satirical political blog In the Pink Texas, and a guest columnist at the Texas Observer. She lives in Austin.)


August 13, 2011: Gov. Rick Perry announces his candidacy for president. Cue media frenzy and hundreds of screaming teen girls.
January 19, 2012: Unable to make a respectable showing in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, Perry drops out and endorses Newt Gingrich. Tells supporters that he has just begun to fight.

It was all over before it started. When Rick Perry bounded onto the national stage as the consummate politician who had never lost a race, who had never known what it was like to have to fight, he was already being feted in the state and national media as the all-but-certain Republican nominee. He was being called the next Ronald Reagan -- the next best thing to being called Jesus Christ Superstar, if not a little better. But with his trademark Texas bravado and über-masculine swagger, Perry quickly became a caricature of himself. Someone who could throw out a few zingers but couldn't back them up with any sort of substance. Someone not to be taken seriously. It turned out that the problem wasn't underestimating him. It was overestimating him.

By kicking off his campaign with a much-publicized and over-the-top prayer rally, not to mention more than one day of "prayer and fasting," Perry had made a conscious choice -- and perhaps a fatal tactical error -- to align himself with evangelical conservatives, thereby placing his candidacy squarely in their hands. Perry, a self-proclaimed ''prophet,'' talked constantly about his faith and boasted that he was "called by God" to enter the race in between citing biblical verses by heart. There's a thin line between "religious" and "sanctimonious," one that Perry managed to cross again and again. All of a sudden he found himself trailing a Mormon and two Catholics, something that Perry and his advisers clearly never anticipated.

There's nothing inherently wrong with running as an avowed Christian conservative, as long as there's no automatic assumption that those voters are sheep who will follow you to the ends of the earth. Sure, evangelicals want someone who shares their beliefs, but they also want someone who can, you know, win. It must have stung when just days ago evangelical leaders held a meeting right in Perry's own backyard and decided as a group to back Rick Santorum as the true conservative alternative.

MORE


- So it appears what Perry lacked was the Santorum frothiness that conservative evangelicals hanker for........

DeSwiss

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