Published November 17, 2014
With just two months until Iowa's presidential caucuses, Republican Rick Perry is redoubling his effort to introduce himself in the state that holds his political fate.
Trailing in the polls, the Texas governor on Monday introduced his second ad in the nation's first caucus state, just a week after his first, setting his jobs and fiscal record as his chief assets and poking at his chief rival's superior debating skills.
"If you're looking for a slick politician or a guy with great teleprompter skills, we already have that, and he's destroying our economy," Perry says in the new ad, poking directly at Democratic President Barack Obama, but also nudging Romney. "I'm a doer, not a talker."
And he's about to get some help in another early-voting state. A super political action committee that supports Perry and is run by several Perry associates, Make Us Great Again, planned to run TV ads in South Carolina as early as Tuesday, telling TV stations to reserve airtime for him.
It was unclear what the content of the South Carolina ad is, but the fact that the group is planning to run advertisements on his behalf indicates that Perry's allies are making similar efforts to boost his poll numbers in that key state.
Perry's quick release of a second ad and two trips to Iowa this week reflect his urgency for a good showing in the state. Perry needs a strong performance in the Jan. 3 caucuses to carry him into New Hampshire, where Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, lead in polls ahead of its leadoff primary.
Perry placed fifth in The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll published Sunday, tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with support from 7 percent of likely caucus goers. Businessman Herman Cain led with 23 percent, followed closely by Romney with 22 percent.
But the Texas governor's new ad projects confidence. An open-collared Perry, backed by a lively string accompaniment, nods assuredly into the camera while noting Texas' healthy economy in the past two years, Perry's calling card as he seeks to challenge Romney as the candidate best able to attack the GOP's chief concern: jobs.
The new ad picks up the theme of Perry's first campaign ad, a 30-second spot also launched in Iowa that promises 2.5 million jobs and points to his economic record as Texas' three-term governor.
And while Perry has admitted struggling during the string of recent debates, in the new ad he turns the criticism around by arguing his record is more relevant than his debate polish.
The new ad and a stepped up Iowa presence follow Perry's steady decline in national polls since he entered the race on Aug. 13 and shot to the top of GOP surveys.
They also follow last week's reinforcement of his national campaign staff, which had primarily been longtime Texas hands, with seasoned national presidential operatives.
Meanwhile, Perry introduced economic proposals this month, including last week's proposed flat tax and changes to Social Security and Medicare.
Iowa Republicans can expect to hear Perry tout the proposals and Texas' job growth at a forum in Iowa Tuesday co-hosted by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a pro-business Republican who has held out the possibility of endorsing a candidate before the caucuses.
Gingrich and other Republican presidential hopefuls Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are also scheduled to attend the forum at Vermeer Manufacturing southeast of Des Moines.
Romney declined the invitation to participate in the forum, even though the former investment capital executive is stressing his decades in the private sector over his one term as Massachusetts governor to present himself as the field's most economics-savvy candidate.
And while Romney has ramped up his outreach in Iowa after laying low for most of the year, he is avoiding multicandidate forums in the state where he waged an all-out campaign for the caucuses only to finish second four years ago.
Perry on the other hand is has been to Iowa more than twice as often as Romney this year, only to find himself trailing.
The one-two punch of advertising and aggressive travel will help boost his brand, Perry's national communication director Ray Sullivan said.
"Republicans in Iowa should expect to see Gov. Perry a lot between now and when voting starts, not only on the air, on TV and other paid media, but also on the ground and at speeches and traditional campaign events," Sullivan told The Associated Press. "Iowa is very important to Gov. Perry, and he will continue to make it a priority."
Perry also plans to campaign in the Des Moines area Tuesday, and return Thursday and Friday, capping his busy week in Iowa with four others in a Iowa GOP fundraiser in Des Moines.
Perry aides say the Register's poll reflects fluidity in the race and an opportunity for Perry. Perry's ad was hitting airwaves at about the same time as almost 60 percent of those polled last week said they could be convinced to support another candidate in the next two months.
"I think the schedule can be summed up in one word: aggressive," Perry's senior Iowa adviser Bob Haus said. "He will be in a position to shine where he does best, and that's retail campaigning. When he meets people, he's converting them and that's what he needs to do."
Associated Press writer Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.