Former Gov. Mitt Romney has some fundamental problems in his campaign for the GOP nomination. He has his handprints all over a healthcare law in Massachusetts that is despised by Republican conservatives. Small-minded people, sadly, still are uneasy about the idea of a Mormon in the White House. And he's changed his mind on a few social issues important to the conservative wing of the party.
But Romney has been offered a gift in the race, and its name is Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry, the governor of Texas, seems to be single-handedly trying to lose the senior vote for the GOP, calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie." In the GOP debate this week, Perry derided President Obama for saying the border was safer (violent crime rates along the border have indeed been dropping), saying that Obama "either he has some of the poorest intel of a president in the history of this country, or he was an abject liar to the American people." And Perry has suggested that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is verging on treasonous behavior for his monetary policy.
Why the amped up rhetoric? Does Perry not realize that when you write a book called Fed Up!, you don't need to convince people of your anger?
Perry's comments sound like an amalgamation of the most vitriolic, anonymous comments people make on the Internet. At least some of those are the products of late nights, perhaps a couple of cocktails, and a burst of frustration—all protected by the fact that the writers don't leave their names. Perry can't hide behind an online moniker.
Some of the rest of the field appears eager to match Perry's passion with whipped-up rhetoric of their own. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who in August told CNBC that Bernanke has "done a terrible job," upped the ante at the debate, calling Bernanke "the most dangerous and power-centered chairman" in the history of the Fed, and saying he'd fire him. That's an odd remark from a member of a party that contends business needs more predictability in the markets.
Romney is emerging as a voice of reason and calm in the GOP field. He's certainly making direct appeals to the right wing of the party, but without the overheated words of his primary opponents. That may be just what the former Massachusetts governor needs to ease worries about his record.