The news that key long time advisers to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas — David Carney and Rob Johnson — have quit Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, along with other Gingrich staff members, is a strong sign that Perry has decided to run for the presidency. Carney and Johnson only joined Gingrich in the first place when the ten-year Texas governor told them he would not compete for the presidency.
Many originally reported that seven Gingrich staffers resigned, but PJMedia has knowledge from a close source that the number was actually twelve — a mass exodus indeed and hugely embarrassing to the former speaker.
Nevertheless, Gingrich has already sent out email that he will restart his campaign Sunday night at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual summer bash in Los Angeles. PJTV will be there.
Why did the Gingrich staffers say they quit? “We just had a different direction in which we wanted to take the campaign,” a source told Politico. My guess is that direction, for some at least, was toward Austin, although Gingrich certainly had not distinguished himself on the campaign trail, particularly with his clumsy personal attack on Rep. Paul Ryan.
Now it seems almost certain events have conspired to convince Rick Perry to run. And if he does, the Texas governor will be a formidable candidate.
In many ways, the Republican nomination would be Perry’s to lose.
The Tea Party vote would largely migrate to the Texas governor — and quickly. Michele Bachmann looked amateurish and confused with her selection of Ed Rollins as campaign manager. Rollins — who has a bad habit of making the campaign about him — made the mistake of pointlessly attacking Sarah Palin, thus alienating a large portion of Bachmann’s base should she be nominated. Bachmann might have redeemed herself by firing Rollins, but she didn’t.
Meanwhile, Palin seems more like she’s running to be a conservative Oprah than to be president of the United States. And her continuing high negatives make it unlikely she would be able to capture the center of the country, necessary in order to win, anyway. And Herman Cain, while appealing, has little to run on but a successful pizza company.
Perry has been America’s most successful governor for the last decade, helping create jobs in his state at a rapid clip while most of the rest of the country was shedding them. This is a huge competitive asset against Obama who seems increasingly clueless about how to rescue our near-disastrous economic situation.
This will also give the Texas governor an advantage against his mainline Republican competition — Romney, Pawlenty, Hunstman, etc. Furthermore, unlike the others, Perry is a charismatic figure who seems like he could be president. He can easily hold the stage with Obama.
The rap on Perry is that he is another Texan, like George Bush. And because of Bush, the country is Texas-weary. But in person the governor is much more like Ronald Reagan than Bush. If I seem overly enthusiastic, it’s because I have spent a fair amount of time with Perry — pistol shooting and at the NASCAR races.