MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBSDFW.COM) – While the political spotlight is on Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, Governor Rick Perry is planning a huge comeback in South Carolina.
Perry says the results in New Hampshire show the race for the “conservative alternative” to Mitt Romney is still wide open. This is likely why the governor stayed in the race after Iowa.
In a statement Tuesday night, Perry described South Carolina as — “Friendly territory for a Texas governor and veteran with solid outsider credentials, the nation’s best record of job creation, and solid fiscal, social and tea party conservatism.”
And now, courting Tea Party members is once again Perry’s strategy. But how?
During both debates this past weekend, the governor suggested he was the right candidate for Tea Party members. “Who is it who can invigorate the Tea Party?” he asked.
But he’s not exactly winning them over. Just ask Dallas Tea Party member Katrina Pierson. “The Texas Tea Party people know Governor Perry. He does say some great things right in line with our principles and values. The facts are here in Texas, we aren’t governed conservatively.”
Pierson says Governor Perry didn’t push hard enough for legislation that targeted illegal immigrants.
Perry, along with former house speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are considered to be the conservatives in the presidential race.
But Santorum has been criticized for being a big government spender, and Gingrich for supporting the idea of requiring people to buy health insurance, both unpopular with conservatives.
So why are they better than Perry? Ken Emanuelson is also a member of the Dallas Tea Party. He says in terms of policy, the governor is conservative. “I think he is better than Santorum and arguably Gingrich. the problem is when you start leveling Perry against Gingrich, the question is ‘who are you going to put on that stage against Obama?'”
So both Emanuelson and Pierson are supporting Gingrich.
Even though he’s not gaining support from Tea Party members, political analyst John Weekley says Perry must still court them. “I think he’s trying to reach out to those people because his only shot is in South Carolina.”
And in what may be a surprise, Romney won among those who call themselves Tea Party members.
The economy was the overriding number one issue in New Hampshire. And it’s expected to the same in South Carolina. Despite Governor Perry’s jobs record, he remains in fifth place in the polls there.
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