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The Brief: Oct. 17, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry may be taking a softer-than-expected approach with Mitt Romney. At least for now.

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The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry may be taking a softer-than-expected approach with Mitt Romney. At least for now.

Dave Carney, Perry's top political strategist, told The Washington Post that the campaign's first TV ads may not be as negative as many have expected. Reports indicated last week that Perry, seeking to stall Romney's momentum, would wage an all-out assault over the airwaves, possibly hitting the former Massachusetts governor on issues like gay rights and abortion.

“We’re introducing the governor to folks who don’t have a clue to his record, his background and what he wants to accomplish,” Carney said of Perry, adding, “This whole idea that you have to attack Mitt Romney — that’s pedestrian thinking.”

In an interview with the Post about the next phase of Perry's campaign, Carney said that despite the perception — fueled by polls — that Perry has peaked, the campaign remains on track with organization, policy development and fundraising. (The campaign raised a robust $17 million last quarter.)

“The media narrative is not helpful,” Carney said. “But the reality is that message matters more than chatter. We need to get our message out there, and we need to do better in every aspect.”

Advisers are encouraged by the governor's upcoming schedule, which, after Tuesday's Republican debate in Las Vegas, includes Perry getting back to retail politics, at which he's said to excel.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner also brushed off concerns that first lady Anita Perry's recent emotional speech, in which she said the media has "brutalized" her husband, reflected a belief in the campaign that Perry has been treated unfairly.

“If someone can’t take a punch, this is not the right business,” Miner said. “He’s proven he can take them and throw them. This is part of the process. Debates are part of the process. Retail campaigning is part of the process. Fundraising is part of the process. And sometimes, taking a punch is part of the process. You move forward.”

As the Post puts it, Perry "may have dug himself a deep hole with the four debates he’s been in so far, but here in Austin, there is more defiant determination than pessimism in the concrete-walled command post."

Culled:

  • The latest Texas Tribune/New York Times collaboration focuses on Mike Toomey, one of the foremost forces behind Rick Perry. Described as intense and reclusive, respected and feared, Toomey over the years has tapped a web of donors, lawmakers and business leaders to help Perry politically and legislatively, and he'll likely do the same for the next year as the head of Make Us Great Again, the pro-Perry Super PAC that will be able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the governor.
  • An operative closely tied to Rick Perry may have played a role in quietly pushing a campaign aimed at taking down Mitt Romney for his Mormonism. In emails obtained by The Daily Beast, the operative, David Lane, a powerful evangelical who directed fundraising efforts for Perry's August prayer rally, praises Robert Jeffress, the Perry-backing Dallas megachurch pastor who recently called Mormonism a cult. "Getting out Dr. Jeffress [sic] message, juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things," Lane wrote.
  • The Tribune's Jay Root has a look at a 1990 Rick Perry ad tying his Democratic opponent, Jim Hightower, to the Rev. Jesse Jackson — a 20-year-old controversy that has taken on renewed significance in light of the recent camp-name controversy.
  • U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi is one of several freshman Republicans in the U.S. House struggling to raise money, according to Politico. Farenthold, who brought in $102,000 over the last three months, was swept into Congress in 2010 with a wave of freshman Republicans, many of whom have just begun to navigate the Washington fundraising circuit.

"My son lost his job because of this administration."Anita Perry to a South Carolina voter on Friday. As the first lady explained, "He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can't go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations."

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