Perry's Iowa Push Not Moving the Polls

Republican candidate Rick Perry finishes a speech at the Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa, Iowa on December 28, 2011.
Republican candidate Rick Perry finishes a speech at the Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa, Iowa on December 28, 2011.

Gov. Rick Perry has been traveling through Iowa the last couple of weeks, trying to build some momentum going into next week’s caucuses.

Political pundits say Iowa is where candidates go to refine their message. And after two weeks of a bus tour, you can see Perry’s message changing. On the first half of the tour, he focused on what he calls his “outsider” status, beginning his speeches by calling for a part-time Congress. So far this week, the final days before the caucuses, he’s been telling people they don’t have to settle for candidates with high poll numbers.

Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News

“I’ve got great respect for all those folks that are on the stage with me, the ones that are so-called front-runners right now," Perry told the crowd. "But you gotta ask yourself: If we replace a Democratic insider for a Republican insider, is Washington going to change?"

This tour has been about asking Iowa Republicans for a second chance. And based on the crowds and the reaction Perry is getting at the tour stops, people are giving him one.

Len Huffman came to hear Perry on Wednesday morning in Urbandale. He said Perry’s bus tour is making a difference, especially since many Iowans haven’t decided whom to caucus for on Tuesday.

"I know a lot of people at this table here, we were all Herman Cain guys and girls," Huffman said. "When he imploded, we started looking around again. Perry’s my choice."

But if the bus tour is improving Perry’s caucus chances, it hasn’t shown up in the polls yet. A new CNN/Time magazine poll out Wednesday had the governor in fifth place. The big winner so far this month is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who jumped from sixth to third place.

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