MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- Rick Perry returned to New Hampshire on Wednesday, trying to jump start his floundering presidential campaign in the 'First in the Nation' primary state.
The Texas governor toured Granite State Manufacturing, a defense contractor in Manchester where he operated a robot designed to disable bombs - or more specifically, improvised explosive devices that have claimed the lives of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perry proved quite adept in maneuvering the track wheeled device, but whether he can find his way back into the race for the White House is still unclear.
According to University of New Hampshire professor of politics Dante Scala, "the problem for Rick Perry is his campaign is leaking all over the place, not just in New Hampshire. Iowa and South Carolina are crucial for him and he's not doing well there either. So I wonder if New Hampshire voters will see him enough to change their minds about him."
Beleaguered by poor debate performances, Perry is in the process of shifting his campaign message and in a brief speech to Granite State Manufacturing employees focused on a new issue - the need to reform Congress.
"Join me in this fight to make Washington as inconsequential in your life as possible and we'll be better off," he said, adding that one option for tackling the enormous federal debt is to make Congress a part-time legislative body. "The less time Congress spends in DC the better."
Perry claims the number of Congressional staffers has doubled in the last decade, noting that while average Americans are suffering through the worst economy in generations the nation's capital is booming with high paying government jobs. "Washington's broken and it needs a complete overhaul," he said. "If Congress doesn't get the message, cut their pay and send them home." Perry's campaign may be struggling but it still operates as if he's a frontrunner with lots of staff carefully managing every aspect of his appearances. When he first jumped into the 2012 race dozens of journalists and cameras followed his every move.
For his part, Perry pretended the journalists weren't even there, making nary a nod of recognition and ignoring all questions. Despite falling poll numbers Perry still blows off reporters at times and the governor quickly left the Manchester event on Wednesday without speaking to the gathered media.