Second Chance in South Carolina
Texas Governor Rick Perry won’t be in the state for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary returns. Recent polls show he would pick up just one percent of the vote there. Instead, he’s making a last stand in South Carolina. KUT’s Ben Philpott, who has been following the governor on the campaign trail, reports from Leesville, South Carolina, that the candidate’s do-or-die message is working with voters there.
There’s no sugar coating Perry’s chances right now. He has 11 days to convince South Carolina voters to forget his early stumbles, his fifth place finish in Iowa and his meager chances in New Hampshire – and still have them throw their lot in with him. He brought South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney on the bus today to stir up crowds at each campaign stop. In Fort Mill, Mulvaney implored a large crowd to forget about the Perry they saw in debates.
“I’m going to ask you a favor. I’m going to ask you to listen to him for the next 20 minutes and ask yourself, ‘Is this the same guy that I saw on the debates, or is this somebody who really does get it and who really should be the President of the United States of America?’” Mulvaney asked.
Perry hoped Iowans would give him a second chance. In South Carolina, he’s openly asking for it. His campaign messages are the same they’ve been all along – a part-time Congress and that he’s the outsider and the only real conservative running – but there was one difference: attacking Mitt Romney.
Perry told crowds about two cities in South Carolina, Georgetown and Gaffney, where major companies were shut down by an investment firm that, according to Perry, put profits over people.
“How can we make as much money as we can make in a hurry and walk away from the rubble that’s left, and let these small towns like Georgetown and Gaffney deal with it? What makes that an interesting story right now is the company that did that was Bain Capital, and Mitt Romney was the head of Bain Capital when that was happening,” Perry said.
People on the trail seemed receptive. In Fort Mill today, several asked Perry for pictures or autographs and voiced their support.
With his shirt crisply pressed, smile wide and hair firmly in place, an onlooker would be hard pressed to find evidence of the uncertainty this candidate must be feeling. When asked if he was concerned about skipping the Granite State, Perry didn’t blink.
“With this weather? I think South Carolina is a great place to be,” he said.
Now, all he needs is for the state’s climate to favor a comeback – a forecast Perry’s not willing to make.
“I’m not going to play the game of what-ifs, or what have you. Our intention is to win. I can’t tell you anything other than that,” Perry said.
He may not have to win the state to continue his campaign, but most pundits believe Perry won’t make it to Florida without a strong South Carolina showing.