Governor Rick Perry’s roller coaster ride in the Presidential race was not unprecedented but certainly serves as a modern lesson that it’s one thing to be an attractive potential candidate and a whole other thing to run a successful campaign.
When Perry streaked onto the Presidential scene, many pundits were predicting that the race was over and that Mitt Romney and the cast of thousands should simply endorse the guy and watch him steamroll President Obama.
And even though Perry enjoyed a few weeks of dominance in the polls, all of that dominance came before he really had to ever open his mouth under a pressure situation. As soon as that happened, the first hints that this would end badly became evident.
Perry’s performance in debates became rich material for late night talk show hosts, but the lack of campaign organization also showed that Perry was not ready for prime time.
While it takes big money and resources to run a national campaign, it also takes an organization that won’t let not being on the ballot in key states become the headlines of your campaign.
After taking hits in debates, Perry’s headlines delved into other weaknesses of his campaign, rather than covering the facets of his career that made him a potential candidate in the first place.
In that regard, whether he went there himself or he was pushed, Perry fell victim to what so many other Republicans have before him. He burst on the scene as a successful fiscal conservative and went so far right on social conservative issues that everyone forgot about the great things he supposedly did as Governor of Texas.
Again, a smarter, more seasoned campaign would have been able to steer the message back to what got Perry in the spotlight in the first place and away from the social conservative message that tripped Perry up so often.
Mistakes in debates and the inability to be organized outside of debates showed Republicans across the nation that while Perry may have been successful in Texas, he wasn’t ready for the White House.
With Perry’s demise, so too officially ends the “flavor of the week” tradition, which Perry was kind enough to kick off. When Perry arrived, he became the very first flavor of the week, but his mistakes triggered the carousel which has spun fast enough to kick off almost everyone left.
In the end, Governor Rick Perry’s comet-like campaign showed why primary seasons need to be so long and torturous. Like a marathon, it’s meant to weed out anyone who can’t handle the long haul of a Presidential run. As competitive as a primary election is, it’s child’s play compared to the general election race.
If the primary season was somehow shorter, political parties would risk having a nominee who grabbed the spotlight at the right time, but never showed he or she could handle the long fight.
It may be hard to watch, but these long campaigns do serve a purpose. Gov. Perry’s experience served a purpose as well. We learned that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about presidential politics before the candidate begins the real run.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.