The Big Conversation:
Details of a Super PAC's multimillion-dollar push to help Rick Perry clinch the Republican nomination have surfaced.
NBC News reports that Make Us Great Again, a Super PAC headed by Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff, has drafted plans to spend $55 million to help Perry secure the Republican nomination by late March. As a Super PAC, Make Us Great Again can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, and its fundraising will likely outstrip that of Perry's official campaign, GOP consultants tell NBC.
Internal documents reveal that the group has mocked up a four-phase strategy, which would start with a $5 million ad push on Fox News and Iowa TV stations. The group is counting on Perry wins in at least two of the three early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — and, in phase two, plans to spend $20 million in the big three plus Nevada and Florida.
"What Does History Teach Us?" says one slide in a presentation for prospective donors. "No candidate has ever gone on to secure the nomination without winning in the traditional early states. … We have to win the battle of ideas, organization and momentum in the early states and carry that into March."
Phase three calls for a $20 million push in 20 states — including several in the South, like Texas and Virginia — through March 24. The last phase, as NBC notes, only calls for $10 million in spending after March 25, indicating that the group is looking to help Perry avert a prolonged battle with his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
According to NBC, a spokesman for Make Us Great Again called the plan "an early planning document that is now outdated." Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said, "I am not familiar with Make Us Great Again and am unaware of their budget or intentions."
- Rick Perry left the campaign trail Monday — the start of a big week for the governor — to monitor the devastating wildfires raging outside of Austin, but that didn't keep him out of the spotlight at a South Carolina Tea Party forum he'd been scheduled to attend on Monday, as the Tribune's Jay Root reports. At the event, presidential candidate Herman Cain echoed the "career politician" line used last week by Mitt Romney. And though Perry wasn't present, his supporters used the event to trot out the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. Perry aides have said the wildfires — which, as the Austin American-Statesman notes, can be partly blamed on Tropical Storm Lee — won't keep him from Wednesday's Republican debate (for which the Statesman and The Daily Beast have previews).
- In the first anti-Rick Perry ad volley of the season to come directly from a campaign, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul hammers his fellow Texan for supporting Al Gore's 1988 presidential bid. “Al Gore found a cheerleader in Texas named Rick Perry," the minute-long ad says. "Rick Perry helped lead Al Gore’s campaign to undo the Reagan revolution, fighting to elect Al Gore president of the United States." Paul's campaign hopes to run the ad during Wednesday debate.
- The latest "front-runner" evidence: Two new polls out today, from Politico/George Washington University and NBC/The Wall Street Journal, show Rick Perry with a commanding double-digit lead over Mitt Romney.
- The federal case challenging Texas' Republican-backed redistricting maps begins today, and the Trib's Ross Ramsey has a preview.
- Dallas will soon be getting a second medical school, according to The Dallas Morning News. The new school — a partnership between the Baylor Health Care System and the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine — puts Dallas behind Houston in the med school count but ahead of Austin and South Texas, which are both hoping to land institutions.
"I think legitimately it's a Romney-Perry race. I think she's the third candidate at this point in time — which is way different and better than we'd thought when we started this thing. And she's very much in this thing." — Ed Rollins, who on Monday stepped down as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign manager
- Politics brings a new test to Jasper race relations, Houston Chronicle
- Perry is their governor, but these Texans back Palin, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Rice marching band mocks Perry and A&M in halftime show at UT, Houston Chronicle
- Room For Debate: Rick Perry’s Plan: $10,000 for a B.A., The New York Times
- Interactive: Comparing the Leading GOP Presidential Contenders, The Texas Tribune