Let's cut to the chase and say what we already know: Rick Perry's presidential campaign died an expected death last night at the Iowa caucuses. The Texas Governor promised to go back to the Lone Star State to reassess his campaign. Bull.
Rick Santorum successfully swiped the conservative value voters Perry was targeting during December, mitigating any rejuvenation the Texan would have garnered from a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses. With Perry's dwindling chances in South Carolina and not even appearing on the ballot in Virginia, it would take a swing of historic proportions to bring his campaign back to life. Despite his own promises to carry on, the candidate is toast. Oops.
As much as his continued run will keep things interesting, it's time to say goodbye to one of the most baffling, stupendously awful primary runs in recent memory. More than any other candidate, Perry entered the race the guns-blazing, white knight Republican voters yearned for. But a candidate cannot overcome poor campaigning and a sluggish tongue, no matter how desperate the electorate. And more than any other hopeful, the Texas Governor proved GOP voters are still prone to bouts of rationality.
It's hard to remember, but at one point in time, Perry was considered the odds-on favorite to run away with the nomination the day he announced his candidacy in August. Heck, he even led President Barack Obama in some polls. On Tuesday, he sounded defeated after coming in fifth with 10 percent of the vote in Iowa.
This campaign has never been about me. It's about a movement of Americans who see our country -- that it's not on the track that most of us want it to be on, Perry said. What a difference four months makes.
As of Sept. 1, 2011, Rick Perry was the only GOP candidate to hold a lead over Obama. At the time, his record seemed sterling. The longest serving Governor of a state that produces Presidential candidates the way the Yankees produce World Series wins? A Christian man with a fat rolodex of willing donors and pastors lining up to anoint him? His repeated claims that Texas was a job-producing state? Perry's sole mandate was clear: don't screw it up. And again... Oops.
Perry 2012: Too Many Mistakes
Perry proves an ideal record and boatloads of cash stands luckless when the candidate in question is a babbling fool. The only reason Rick Perry isn't the presumptive Republican candidate today is: Rick Perry.
First came the dubious claims of job creation, which were followed by cringe-inducing performances during otherwise vanilla debates. But the sheer repetition of his poor speeches and awful debate showings whittled away at his lead, until Herman Cain -- Herman freaking Cain! -- took over as the new Republican hope.
All polls had Perry in the lead among Republicans for six straight weeks, a stretch not matched since he knocked off Mitt Romney from the top spot on August 15. It was Perry that launched the hunt for Not-Mitt, a mythical mix of Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and Grover Norquist. In the time since Perry took and lost the lead in GOP polls, Romney has relinquished his front-runner status to five other candidates. Because though Republican voters rejected Perry the candidate, they haven't given up the ideal they assigned to him. The sweet feeling of finding the perfect fit has GOP voters still looking for someone that matches their rubric of greatness.
Perry, then, falls into the Howard Dean paradigm of presidential has-beens. A man ultimately felled by his own presumption, loose tongue and bizarrely untethered performances. His freewheeling stump speech before a conservative group in New Hampshire sealed the deal. Positions on immigration can change; flat taxes can be proposed; and last-ditch appeals to the Moral Majority can be made. A clown is still a clown, even if he's wearing a flag pin on his lapel and hoping to become leader of the free world.
Whatever politicos term Perry's failed attempt at running for office, understand this: Republican voters proved they refuse to be fooled by a Texas drawl and cowboy boots again. Finally. Anyone who thinks they'll break the mold will be left saying Oops.