Texas Gov. Rick Perry bowed out of the race for the Republican nomination today in the same place where it started – South Carolina, but what began as an aggressive campaign effort fell flat after lackluster debate performances, spotty organization and a late start. Here's why Perry bombed:
1. Too late a start.
Perry joined the race on Aug. 13, the day of the Iowa Straw Poll, effectively stealing attention from winner Michelle Bachmann. "It's time to get America working, folks, and that's the reason I am announcing my candidacy today to be president of the United States," Perry said to a robust crowd of 150. But, the late start took a toll, GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak says. "Running for president is an enormous undertaking and you make it even harder by getting in late," he said. " The challenge becomes so impossible that it is almost destined for failure. There is no room for error."
2.The Ponzi Scheme, the third federal agency and HPV.
Perry enjoyed a surge in the polls after his announcement. Just days before his first debate on Sept. 7 at the Reagan library, a Quinnipiac University poll revealed the Texas governor garnered 24 percent of the vote, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 18 percent. And, then came the debates. It seems Perry did not understand the power of the televised debate. He earned cheers for his position on the death penalty, but was quickly plagued with questions about his decision to require teenage girls in Texas to be vaccinated for the HPV virus. He also struggled to defend his comparison of Social Security to a "ponzi" scheme and a memory relapse in a later debate went viral when Perry blanked on the third federal agency he'd cut from the budget if he were president. "It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, commerce, education and the ughhh...what's the third one there?" "The third one I can't...I'm sorry..oops."
3.Investing too much in New Hampshire and too little in Iowa
A late start in the race forced the Perry campaign to run nationally, a key for raising enough money to prove Perry was a serious alternative to Romney. After raising $17 million in the third quarter, and in only six weeks, Perry appeared to be outpacing Romney in fundraising. The focus on a national campaign, however, took Perry away from Iowa where poorly financed candidates like former Pennslyvania Sen. Rick Santorum were devoting themselves to more personal grassroots campaigns that Iowans adore. In addition, Perry spent many of the first weeks focused New Hampshire under the advisement of his advisor David Mitchel Carney, a New Hampshire native who thought Perry could be competitive in the Granite State. Of course, Perry eventually gave up the original plan, and spent the New Hampshire primary campaigning in South Carolina.
4.No Clear Message or Image.
Mackowiak says that while Perry's Texas team served him as well as they could, presidential campaigns are a lot bigger than even his Texas-based campaign could handle. Mackowiak says that Perry's team did not bring in crisis and media experts early on enough to help guide him in the beginning months of the campaign, which eventually led to Perry being seen by the GOP as soft of immigration because he supported a tuition waiver for children of illegal immigrants. "Perry's team especially did not help the in-state tuition issue. He was able to be tagged about someone who was not tough on immigration. For good or ill that is an issue you cannot be on the wrong side of with the GOP," Mackowiak says.
5.Too many other conservatives in the race.
Perry was one of many in the race for the GOP nomination who was running as a tough conservative. Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Bachmann and Santorum were all competing for the same voters, splintering each of their chances and giving Romney, who appeals to independents, an advantage. "Rick Perry needed the race to be consolidated by Iowa in order to win there," Mackowiak says. "The wide field of conservative candidates hurt him more than any other factor."