Last night on Fox News’ candidate forum, Governor MItt Romney defaulted to quoting David Brooks from the New York Times. There’s why Herman Cain’s supporters will be looking at Gingrich and Perry.In fact, last night a number of Cain’s Iowa staff moved to Rick Perry.Rick Perry will get another look. He will get another look because while the grassroots and Republican voters in general are moving to Gingrich, conservative leaders around the country are rapidly running up their watch towers to light fires against Gingrich. They remember him from the 90’s and they don’t trust him.Rick Perry is going to get a second look. Jon Huntsman made the fatal mistake of branding himself too moderate. He’ll get a look if people don’t like what they see in Rick Perry.This now raises a huge red flag: is Rick Perry ready for his second chance?
I’m not sure Perry is ready. His debate performances have steadily improved. But there is a real problem for Perry. He needs to run a really flawless race and his campaign needs to send out some strong signals that they get it and will perform.Rightly or, I hope, wrongly, I get the impression they still think it is their race. I think they still think they are biding their time. I think they still think they are fighting Kay Bailey Hutchison. I think if they don’t wake up soon and shake up, they are toast. Rick Perry is going to get a second look. He is the most consistent conservative in the race. In fact, this should be his race to lose given his positioning.I hope his campaign realizes just how close they are to losing it.Oh, and if Perry does lose, he is going to be in for a rude awakening in Texas. Look what happened when people realized Mitt Romney was vulnerable. The pile on has come swiftly.If Rick Perry loses and goes back to Texas as its Governor, the man who has stood dominant in Texas for a decade will be seen as a loser for the first time — and not just a loser, but a fool too. The pile on against a Governor who is constitutionally weak, but made strong through a decade of appointments, will be swift.Is Rick Perry ready to win? If not, the nomination won’t be all he loses. He’ll lose Texas too.His campaign staff better get a clue pretty damn quick.