Okay, I’m kidding, seriously. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not had a non closeted Republican onstage since Bob Hope. By the way, I had dinner with Mr. Hope a number of times and I can tell you that he was only a bi-Republican. But yes, the Rick Perry campaign imploded before our eyes Wednesday night in the GOP debate when he forgot his lines. What happens now? Here are three things to consider.
1.) Rick Perry got into the presidential race late. You can’t really do that. No matter how big your base or how much money you have. In 1998 I was warning George W. Bush that his delay in getting into the race for 2000 was making things tough. But he had to wait for his re-election as governor of Texas, wisely concluding that the size of that vote would do more to help his presidential chances than a straw poll in Alabama. Even so he was in angst about it. He knew how dangerous it was to get in late.
It takes time to run for president. I have compared it to building a mall. Let’s say you have all the franchises lined up, all the financing, all the political power, the zoning boards, the mayor, the public and officials standing by with the signed permits in their hands. Let’s say you have so much money that you have two crews working day and night, 24-7, with the work site lit up at night. Even so, with all the money, with everything approved, it still takes time to build a mall.
And running for president takes time. That’s why presidents usually have to run several times before the make it. You can be sure that all of the other candidates had moments of brain freeze, out there on the campaign trail where nobody noticed. They learned their lines well. Rick Perry was hopelessly late for this show. This was bound to happen.
2.) Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations may not have ended. This may just make him mad. We have seen these moments before. Richard Nixon’s famous last press conference comes to mind. “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” Little did we know, the kicking hadn’t even begun. Nixon was elected president eight years later.
Bill Clinton’s political career was buried in 1988, after his disastrous, marathon speech before the Democrat National Convention. The audience went to sleep and only awakened to cheer him when he uttered the words, “in conclusion.” Four years later he was president. In fact, the boring is still ongoing. Nowadays, The Harry Walker Agency will charge you $200,000 for the privilege of being bored by Bill Clinton.
So don’t feel badly for Perry. He is not likely to go away. Last night’s slipup may be the defining moment in a longer career yet to come. Now he may actually get serious about this presidential thing and decide to do it right next time.
3.) And finally, Rick Perry is still a factor, I mean now, in this election. Why? Because he is second in fundraising, just behind Mitt Romney. He has money.
Oh, I know, I know, the pundits are already saying that Newt Gingrich is on the rise but there is a problem. National polls do not impress the good people of Iowa. Ask president Giuliani. It is good organization and money that will make a difference and Gingrich has neither one. Yes, there will be a Fox News Channel push now for Gingrich. It will amount to a priceless infomercial. But it is too late. We are only days away.
I want you to picture this scene. It is January 3, 2012. There is snow outside. The family has gathered around the dinner table in Des Moines to eat turkey, stuffing, green beans, all reheated in the microwave. There are some big football games on television. And somebody says, “Hey, isn’t this the day of the Caucus? Should we go vote?”
“Yeah, we probably should. But there will be a crowd out there. And I’m not sure who I want to vote for anyway.”
“Well, I’m leaning to Newt Gingrich now.”
“Oh yeah? Me too. All though I like what I’ve been seeing in Rick Perry’s TV ads lately.”
“Well, they say that Mitt Romney is going to win it anyway.”
“Oh yeah? That’s what they said last time. I thought he had decided not to participate?”
“No, that was the Straw Poll.”
But none of it will really matter because Newt Gingrich has no organization. And his rise has come too late to find the people who are moving to him. And there will be no Get-Out-The-Vote. And Rick Perry’s flood of television commercials will only be enough to dilute Bachman and Gingrich. And Romney will only get the votes of people who can’t think of anyone else.
There is one candidate who won’t have those problems. Ron Paul. While everybody else eats leftovers and watches the football game, his people, including the old people who have lost their hard earned savings from the past and the legions of young college students who have lost their futures will be waiting patiently in the snow to cast their vote of protest.