John Ellis, who among many other things is a Republican political analyst, a blogger and a cousin to former President George W. Bush, nails the state of the GOP presidential race in a Business Insider column:
The Republican “establishment,” such as it is, is quickly coming to the realization that the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s to lose.
That establishment would prefer someone more electable, someone more like, say, Mitt Romney. But as Ellis points out, Romney is the guy that most Republican voters will choose only if they have no other viable choice:
“Romney’s problem is four-fold: he’s politically “fungible” (to put it politely), he’s from the wrong region of the country (New England), he’s of the wrong religion (Mormonism) and he’s too closely identified with Wall Street (Bain Capital). The Republican base would prefer to nominate a strong conservative, evangelical Christian from the Sunbelt who, at the least, shares their disdain for Wall Street’s reckless stewardship of the nation’s financial system.”
Know anybody like that?
Ellis predicts that after Labor Day, the GOP establishment will launch “a sustained negative campaign to destroy Perry with the party’s base.” We’ve already seen hints of that from Karl Rove, among others. Absent some major revelation, however, that effort isn’t likely to work. Perry’s persona and background align so closely with the desires of the GOP base that it will be very difficult to drive a wedge between them. If Perry can prove that he can perform on the national stage, the nomination is all but his and there’s nothing Romney can do about it.
And as Ellis points out, Perry will get that opportunity very quickly.
“Once Labor Day has passed, there will be five debates, in quick succession, on the GOP presidential candidates’ calendars. These will be important tests for Perry. If at the end of two or three, it’s clear that he’s every bit the equal of Mitt Romney on matters of policy and politics, then the Perry juggernaut becomes all but unstoppable. Romney’s “I’m the only electable one” argument will vanish and the party’s base will nominate one of their own. If Perry stumbles badly in the debates, Romney’s campaign gets a second wind.”
I agree wholeheartedly. The only person who can snatch the nomination out of Rick Perry’s hands is Rick Perry himself.
– Jay Bookman