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The Brief: Oct. 25, 2011

A series of bold moves could give Rick Perry the reboot he's looking for.

Gov. Rick Perry greets Iowans in Sioux City on Oct. 8, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

A series of bold moves could give Rick Perry the reboot he's looking for.

In a speech today in South Carolina, Perry will unveil his proposal for a national flat tax, hoping to shift attention away from the controversies and shaky debate performances that have plagued his candidacy for the past several weeks.

Perry's plan, details of which The Wall Street Journal acquired on Monday, would allow taxpayers to choose between a 20 percent flat tax and the current system.

As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, Republican strategists say Perry's plan — simple, like Herman Cain's so-called 9-9-9 plan, but catchier than Mitt Romney's 59 points — could set him apart from his main GOP rivals.

“Team Perry is drawing that bright line distinction not only between himself and Romney, but between himself and Cain,” Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist and former adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign, told the Tribune. “This is about winning over the anti-Romney voting block, and getting them to come together around one candidate.”

Early signs of a relaunch emerged Monday, though, with news that Joe Allbaugh, who ran George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, had joined Team Perry as a senior adviser. Six other well-known strategists, some known for their aggressive work on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 campaign, also signed on.

Sources close to the campaign told the Tribune's Jay Root that the changes were significant but denied that they represented any sort of campaign upheaval.

“They’re not getting rid of Dave Carney," one source said of Perry's top political adviser. “I think Joe can bring a national scene perspective. Carney doesn’t really have the national scene. Joe brings the national experience."

And as Keith Appell, who also worked on the Scott campaign, told Politico: The new hires "are all kindred spirits with the Perry people in that they are all Washington outsiders who aren’t afraid to take on the establishment. It will soon be Mitt Romney’s turn to feel like a piñata."


  • Though Rick Perry and Mitt Romney continue to spar over health care and in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants, the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton and Thanh Tan report that one component of the 2001 tuition law that Perry signed has yet to enter the conversation: the provision allowing some illegal immigrants to be given publicly funded grants to pay for their education.
  • Politico has a look at the difficulty Rick Perry has faced wooing Texas' congressional delegation. Whether due to the governor's history of deriding Washington or lingering tension over his 2010 primary battle with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, only about half of Texas' 25 congressional members have signed on with Perry.
  • The Texas Supreme Court on Monday heard opening arguments over the constitutionality of the state's main business tax. As the Trib's Ross Ramsey reports, a lawyer for the state told the court that a successful challenge to the state's so-called margins tax would send the Legislature back into a special session to find funding for public education.

"It's a good issue to keep alive. It's fun to poke at him."Rick Perry to CNBC's John Harwood on why he revived questions about President Barack Obama's birth certificate in a recent interview


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