Rick Perry’s rapid decline in the polls has enabled Democrats to focus their attacks on Mitt Romney. The Democrats’ attacks so early in the election process indicate their view that Romney is likely to win the Republican nomination.
On September 13, Perry had a commanding 31% lead in the polls according to Real Clear Politics. At that time, the closest competitors were Romney, at 19%, and Ron Paul, at 9%. While a 12% lead is not insurmountable, all indications were that Perry was the candidate to beat for the Republican nomination. Unfortunately for Perry, a series of political flubs have dropped his numbers to 8% support, almost guaranteeing his early exit from the presidential nomination process.
Perry’s numbers began to drop in September after a poor showing during a CNN/Tea Party debate. His numbers continued to erode in October when he stated that the American Revolution was fought in the 16th century instead of the 18th. Perry’s flubs continued into November when he could not remember the third federal department he would eliminate as president. He named the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education but could not remember the Department of Energy.
Perry’s demise has allowed the Democrats to focus their attacks on Romney. On November 19, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave a speech to Democrats at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Iowa. While he did make a few comments directed towards the rest of the Republican field, he quickly focused on Romney. He attacked Romney’s record as well as his leadership potential.
So why would the top Democratic attack dog focus on Romney and not on Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain? Simply put, the White House sees Romney as the biggest threat to President Barack Obama’s reelection. The latest polls indicate that President Obama has a slight advantage over Romney, but much larger advantages over Gingrich and Cain. Another reason is that Gingrich and Cain have enough scandals tarnishing their images that the White House can just stand back and wait. If either wins the nomination, then those scandals can quickly be “dusted off” and used against them.
With Perry feasibly out of the running, the Democrats can focus on attacking Romney. The attacks will try to weaken Romney’s image nationally and maybe even within the Republican Party. The White House likely hopes that Emanuel’s speech data will be picked up by one of the other candidates. The other candidates that Obama can beat.
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