The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Money Problems for Rick Perry? Also: Thoughts on the Logic of Strategy

Posted on | October 21, 2011 | 44 Comments

Call this the “former front-runner” problem:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry kicked off his presidential campaign with an aggressive fundraising schedule that quickly made him a front-runner for the Republican nomination. But reports his campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission show that his ability to attract big money fell off steeply in September — perhaps not coincidentally — at the same time a series of rocky debate performances threatened his early front-runner status.
As Perry arrives on Friday in Washington for a private meeting with K Street insiders, the question is whether he can convince the smart money that his campaign is worth an investment. After three torrid weeks in August when he raised more than twice as much as his nearest fundraising rival, Perry has now fallen back into a much more competitive fundraising race with Mitt Romney. That is not good news for a candidate who, because of his late entry into the race, has a lot of catching up to do. Romney has raised $32 million since the beginning of this campaign cycle.

If you think back to when the Perry bandwagon got rolling (less than 10 weeks ago, although it seems like ancient history now), the perception of inevitability was central to the argument: The Smilin’ Texan was it — The Man, the Real Deal — and everybody else was supposed to gaze in awe while Perry proceeded to dismantle Romney.

When that didn’t happen, when Perry turned out instead to be a spectacular flop, what argument did the bandwagon-jumpers have left? Well, $17 million buys a lot of opposition research, as well as a team of people paid to disseminate it. Excuse me for suspecting that Politico columnists don’t spend their spare hours reading eight-year-old back issues of Human Events, IYKWIMAITYD.

That the Perry campaign has become a purely negative organization — a machine whose prime directive is the destruction of other non-Romney candidates, leaving Perry as the sole hope for the Anybody But Romney movement — is an inevitable consequence of how the campaign began with the goal of becoming the overnight front-runner. When you begin with that kind of plan, with your campaign organized around the idea of raking in front-runner money, you inevitably encounter a problem when, for example, a poll shows your candidate in sixth place in Iowa.

By contrast, despite all the experts predicting that Herman Cain’s campaign was hopelessly doomed, please pay attention to a tiny little scoop I dropped into the fifth paragraph of my American Spectator column today:

“… with contributions pouring in at a pace that may exceed $5 million for the month of October …”

Notice that no source was cited for that scoop. So the reader may hypothetically suppose that some hypothetical person in a position to know gave me a hard number that provided the basis for that “may exceed” figure. And in such a hypothetical situation, it would be my instinct to lowball the estimate.

Of course, it’s also hypothetically possible for hypothetical people to hypothetically blow hypothetical sunshine up my hypothetical skirt. Nevertheless, if the Herman Cain campaign is now raising more money from online small-donor contributions than the Rick Perry campaign is collecting from its list of big-money donors . . .

Well, let’s exit the hypothetical mode and instead make some factual assertions: In any competitive situation, it is always better to permit yourself to be underestimated by your rivals and then surprise them with shocking success, than to build up expectations by noisy boasting and then underperform.

There was a very good reason I lowballed that fund-raising estimate, and buried it in the fifth paragraph of my column: Because I don’t want to be accused of overhyping the numbers, thereby creating unrealistic expectations. We have entered a sort of Bermuda Triangle here: We won’t have fourth-quarter fundraising data until Jan. 15, by which time we’ll already be past the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. So there is no way to know for certain how well anyone’s fundraising is going at this point, and it would be a disservice to pretend that I’ve got any way of knowing what I can’t actually know. And I don’t want to get trapped into a situation where I’m held responsible for the accuracy of an estimate that can’t be verified until mid-January.

But the Perry campaign’s relentlessly negative message now — the turn to the Dark Side, as it were — is a predictable reaction to the failure of their original plan to become the overnight front-runner and Only Legitimate Alternative to Romney.

Those who bought into the original plan, which fell completely apart within six weeks of Perry’s Aug. 13 announcement (“Howdy. Thank you, Erick.”), are now trapped into an all-or-nothing effort to destroy Herman Cain. This response is necessitated by the logic of their strategy, and if my gloomy forebodings back in August about the Sith Lord of Texas were mostly a gut hunch, now the rational basis of that hunch is easier to explain. And I wonder if, inter alia, Drew at AOSHQ realizes how predictable the current anti-Cain messages are.

To quote Michael Corleone: It’s not personal.

The mission of destroying Herman Cain has been assigned to professionals who are just doing their jobs. As much as I’d like to explain here the strategic logic of the Cain campaign, there’s no time.

My flight out of Vegas leaves in less than four hours. I spent some time on the phone today talking to people who aren’t hypothetical, and will try to write one more quick post from the airport. But just remember two things:

  1. Just because people don’t tell you what their strategy is, doesn’t mean they don’t have a strategy, even if they are not themselves entirely conscious of what their strategy is; and
  2. The Five Most Important Words in the English Language are: Hit the freaking tip jar!

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44 Responses to “Money Problems for Rick Perry? Also: Thoughts on the Logic of Strategy”

  1. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

    Given where Cain is right now I am sure $5 million is a very conservative number.  Most estimates say he is on the way to a cool $10 million. 

    I hope it is not squandered and I hope he recognizes that Perry is in trouble because of Perry saying things without necessarily thinking them through.  Even Ceasar riding in a Triumph Parade had a servant quietly giving him the warning he was just a man…and Cain is far from claiming victory. 

  2. Mike
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    Seems like Cain is backing off his 9-9-9 plan a little. I wonder if these “empowerment zones” are all in Black communities or are there empowerment zones in poor White communities, also? Poor White communities are mostly in rural areas so….

  3. ThePaganTemple
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    It doesn’t matter, because 9-9-9 is never going to pass whether Cain is president or not. The sooner people accept that fact the quicker we can move on to talking about things we might have a realistic chance of seeing come to fruition. Unfortunately, Cain has already dug this hole for himself.

  4. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    I agree the chances of 999 passing in a first term are very low.  Still, I do not see it as a hole, but an opportunity.  It is a good idea, as a starting point of discussion.  But I want to see him now focus on the big issue, which is cutting spending.  Because that has to happen. 

  5. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    Perry’s problem is not money.  Perry has plenty of money.  But the money stops when your campaign is in trouble.  The lack of money is a symptom of a bigger problem, not the cause of the problem. 

  6. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

    I think it is an interesting concept…rather than just give out welfare…try an economic zone…this is done in Europe and Asia to an extent.

    I’m sure, naturally, this sort of thing would be targeted toward urban areas, and if proven successful, rotated (not expanded) to other areas.

  7. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    OT but With Fatty McAwesome out she has moved on…Romney/Cain

  8. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    Chasing “Urban Renewal” has been and is a fools errand. Every two or three decades we spend billions building housing for the poor. Then two or three decades later we demolish those buildings because They’ve become hell holes worse than hell holes they replace. This does no good if there is no work nearby. Tax incentives and subsidies are ineffective. Urban renewal is a local problem needing local solutions and will never materialize, Without business friendly local government.

  9. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

    Perry’s PAC is supposed to have $55 million in the bank. Evidently, crony capitalism does pay $$$.

  10. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

    It would seem that they should have bought a gag for Perry first. He is truly a poor debater on the national scene. Maybe he can recover with a good (as in acceptable) executive record, interview formatted sessions, and countless attack ads, but it’ll be a tough slog.

    A white knight he is not. To be fair, no one is. The set expectations were way too high for Perry even though critics warned the greater public about this beforehand.

  11. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    She loves herself some NE RINOism. Odd coming from Coulter. Her conservative bona fides should’ve taken a hit as hard as she rode Christie.

  12. Joe
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

    Maybe she is into bull riding, but Romney and Christie are more like oxen riding. 

  13. OCBill
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

    I admire Herman Cain. He’s an incredibly sharp guy with an amazing personal and professional story. If I were in the market for a CEO to save/run my billion dollar company, he’d be on the short list, but I just don’t see him as President. His gaffe-a-matic tendencies are really only rivaled by Joe Biden. I have no doubts about his pro-life bona fides, but how did he get himself into that mess with Piers Morgan?  He states one day that he wouldn’t have Muslims in his cabinet, then backtracks.  He comes across sometimes like he’s still hosting a radio show where his words don’t matter, but being President is different. Also, to turn around a company, you really are “in charge”. When you’re the President, you’re not “in charge” at least not in the same way.

  14. Red
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    I don’t know about digging a hole but I agree, let’s move on to more immediate possibilities and leave the lofty goals shelved for now.

  15. Red
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    No candidate is going to be everything we want. Let’s try and remember that. I’d like to see the TEA Party take themselves back from the GOP. Getting watered down by GOP Republicans is not helping the TP in the least. I wish the Republican candidates would stop  fighting each other and team up against Obama instead so that there is absolutely no way in hell that squatter gets re-elected.

  16. ThePaganTemple
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

    Bingo. Every place that is an urban hell hole is owned by Democrat city governments. Let them deal with the hell they’ve created. This is a good reason why Democrats take the black vote for granted.

  17. ThePaganTemple
    October 21st, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    I see your point, but I want to see a feisty candidate give hell to an opponent. It gives you a good idea how he or she will do against Obama, and in the meantime how good they are at responding to criticism and thinking on their feet.

  18. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

    I agree. We’ve had one generation of failed “urban renewal” movements after another, encompassing untold numbers of failed public/subsidized housing projects, but many other programs, projects, initiatives as well.

    The reality is that we simply do not know how to “fix” urban centers in the manner understood by good progressive urbanists (i.e., via socioeconomic policy fixes). I don’t believe that there are “local [policy] solutions” to the problem of urban decentralization anymore than there are state or federal [policy] solutions.

    That doesn’t mean that urban core areas will necessarily continue to decline in relative importance (like they have for the last 7+ decades), only that we’ll never be able to reverse this supposed problem via socioeconomic policy fixes.

  19. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    Joe Biden?

    Seriously? When has Cain ever sounded as stupid as “Stand Up Chuck” Biden?

    This is what is called a “moral equivalence.”  It’s a popular fallacy, but for all it’s popularity, it’s still poor reasoning.

  20. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

    The reason Bush wasn’t killed in debates with Gore is because Gore is almost as poor a public speaker as Bush.

    Obama can sound smart while saying the dumbest things imaginable, so Perry has to do better, or be laughed off the stage.

  21. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

    She originally praised Christie as the one who could beat Romney.

    It’s almost like she’s seriously trying for a cabinet-level position.

    Secretary of gay marriage?

  22. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    They did in my estimation (her conservative bonafides) her whole argument for pushing Christie was that if he didn’t run Romney would get the nomination and the Republicans would lose, then her boy turned and around and endorsed defeat.

  23. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    So true. Plus Gore acted like a Grade A A-hole (like when he sidled up next to Bush with his weird, outta-this-world stagecraft). Bush was actually likeable and came across that way. And both are still perceived exactly the same way today. Go figure.

  24. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Spot on. No top-down solution will ever work. Reform can only evolve from the ground up. The subsidies enable and perpetuate a model the locals didn’t believe in themselves; consequently, they won’t ever escape paternalism.

  25. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

    But when maximising your opponents minimums you must maintain at least a facade of civility and decorum. I think both candidates will have to work on their technique while excoriating their opponent.

  26. ThePaganTemple
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    I think she’s just scared to death that nobody but a RINO can beat Obama and she’s that desperate to get rid of him. She’s brought into that establishment mindset. It’s also possible she’s contracted tertiary syphilis of the brain. She did used to date Bill Maher.

  27. ThePaganTemple
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

    I want to see a good old-fashioned, no-holds barred, knock down drag out. I want to see certain ones look into the camera and say “Obama, you think this guy got it bad, wait until I get hold of your mangy communist ass.” That’s what these debates should be, a practice session, and contest to see which one rips into that sorry little punk.

  28. Bob Belvedere
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:12 pm

    I think a lot of conservatives will sahre my attitude: we love you Ann, keep on giving it to the Bolshes, but we won’t forget your very bad judgment.

  29. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:24 pm

    I still want to see her eat crow off Christies hairy back. She beat that damn drum for months and I cringed every time I heard her say the word Christie. It really did become quite tedious.

  30. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

    I’d enjoy that too, but I wouldn’t recommend it to a candidate.

  31. Anonymous
    October 21st, 2011 @ 11:48 pm


    I had to go wash out my brain after reading that.

  32. ThePaganTemple
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    Well you can only get away with that if the truth is on your side. And by truth I don’t just mean righteous or ideological truth, although that is certainly the most important component, but it has to be backed up by cold, hard, irrefutable facts. For example, what would have been wrong with some of our public officials every now and then reminding the public that Ted Kennedy was a drunken bum, womanizer, and killer, and even arguably a potential cold blooded murderer. I mean, come on, its not like we didn’t already know it. While they were at it they could have also tossed in there the son-of-a-bitch was a traitor who colluded with the Soviets to derail Reagan’s weapons programs and his foreign policy positions. There are times when it pays to be cordial, and there are times when you have a perfect right to act like an ass. When you’re right, and/or can prove you’re right, the people will support you. You just have to know when the time is right. Different strokes for different folks.

  33. Anonymous
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 12:40 am

    Playing the voice of reason here is reeealy not my bag but here goes. These guys are trying to convince regular folks not just wingnuts like us that they are “presidential”. To accomplish this it would be helpful not to dismay the squares.

  34. Adjoran
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 12:50 am

    Looking at the donation chart linked, I don’t understand the big story.  Sure, Perry’s fundraising dropped after the first three weeks he was in the race, when he had obviously been lining up donations for months and collected them in three weeks.

    But he’s still well ahead of everyone but Romney in the next four weeks shown, and the only candidate competitive with Romney at all – and in the last week of September he is back on top of Mitt, too.  And that is AFTER his weakest debate performances.

    So the authors don’t appear to have a clue what they are talking about.

  35. ThePaganTemple
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 1:23 am

    I gots just one thing to say to Ann-

  36. ThePaganTemple
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    Adobe I don’t mean to say our candidate should come out clinching their fists in a constant perpetual rage, cursing like an enraged drunken sailor with spit shooting out of his mouth with every word and calling his or her opponent every name in the book while stomping the ground and pounding the podium with his fists.

    I’m just talking about not being shy about telling the truth about what the opponent is, and what he stands for, and not being afraid to relay what known and provable facts can back that up.

    As opposed to that idiot John McCain, for just one example, talking about how he’s sure Obama is a good man who loves his country just as much as he does, and how Ted Kennedy was his “beloved friend”.

  37. Anonymous
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    No…Perry is more than that.  He is a plant.  He is to the left of Romney!

    He is trying to convince Americans, like he has some Texans (but not this one), that he is Conservative because he has a Karl Rove converted democrat with an accent and who went to Texas A&M.

    That dog don’t hunt…

  38. Anonymous
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    I think the point the author is making is that Perry’s money is slowing up.  As his numbers showed, Perry’s money is coming from bundlers (only 4% of his donations came from common folk that are funding Herman Cain’s campaign).

    Losing those bundlers is a big deal since they have so much political clout.

    It will be interesting to see how his Perry’s fundraising looks in January, after he gets blown out by Herman Cain and Mitt Romney! in Iowa.

  39. Anonymous
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    Really I wonder about him sometimes.

  40. Pat in Shreveport
    October 22nd, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    Linked at SIGIS!

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