The Big Conversation:
Gov. Rick Perry, looking to get Iowans on board his struggling campaign, has turned to friends at home. About 600 of them, to be precise.
The Dallas Morning News reports today that Perry plans to bring more than 600 influential Texans to Iowa this month as part of a sustained final push for a solid showing in the first-test state.
Perry's entourage will include "party stalwarts, consultants, lobbyists, business supporters and friends," as well as Attorney General Greg Abbott, Comptroller Susan Combs and top campaign aides, according to the Morning News.
“We have a good opportunity in Iowa for the people to give us a second look,” said Joe Allbaugh, who the Perry campaign earlier this week denied had been named campaign manager. Allbaugh, a big-name consultant who joined the team in October, said the campaign is hoping for as many as 700 volunteers in all.
Abbott said he'll head north for two days before the state's Jan. 3 caucuses. “Iowans and others are still looking for the person who has the conservative values, the proven ability to govern and who can beat Barack Obama,” he said. “I’ll be there talking to as many caucuses and people as possible. I’ll be talking about what [Perry has] achieved in Texas and why he’s the right person.”
Perry advisers have acknowledged that the governor needs a strong showing in the state — first or second place — to revive his chances of winning the nomination. The most recent RealClearPolitics polling average put Perry at just 6 percent in the Hawkeye State, far behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, whom other state and national polls have indicated has established himself as the anti-Romney alternative.
But some observers see an opening for Perry, especially if Gingrich stumbles between now and January. Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, told the Morning News that the Texas blitz could prove effective — if employed correctly.
"If you have folks with expertise and have them go out and talk to groups with those with similar interests — maybe it’s corn growers or about pigs, county Republican women’s groups, right-to-life groups — if you can make that connection, it’s not an invading force," Hagle said. "It’s a personal connection."
- Ron Paul takes square aim at the GOP's possible new presidential front-runner, Newt Gingrich, in a new web video titled "Newt Gingrich: Serial Hypocrisy" that slams the former U.S. House speaker for his infamous "right-wing social engineering" comment and claims that he has shifted positions on issues like his support for an individual health care mandate. In other ad news, Mitt Romney has released his first Iowa TV spot, signaling that his campaign, as The Associated Press reports, has begun a forceful final push in the early-caucus state.
- David Dewhurst has revealed personal financial holdings of $225 million, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Strict federal financial disclosure laws have forced the lieutenant governor, now running for U.S. Senate, to open the contents of his blind trust, which included holdings in construction company Caterpillar Inc. that have drawn scrutiny. "These federal disclosure reports are much more valuable [than state reports] in evaluating the assets of politicians," Andrew Wheat of the fiscal watchdog group Texans for Public Justice told the Statesman. "This guy's rich."
- State Rep. Veronica Gonzales announced on Wednesday that she won't seek another term in the Texas House, bringing the number of representatives retiring from the lower chamber next year to 25. Gonzales, elected in 2004, said in a letter to constituents that she felt she could retire knowing that "the cities comprising District 41 had been put back together," a reference to recent revisions to the state's Republican-drawn maps that restored her district's original lines.
- The Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports today that the recent suicide of Joaquin Luna, an 18-year-old illegal immigrant student, has incited several groups to use his story to renew their push for passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented students. Though some have denied that Luna's death had anything to do with his immigration status, as The Texas Observer reports, the activists hope to reach out to areas along the border, like Luna's hometown of Mission.
"I think the governor was talked into running. ... I think he was also promised he wouldn't have to work all that hard to get it." — A "former top Perry fundraiser" quoted in Politico's new e-book, The Right Fights Back
Who's Sinking Faster: Rick Perry or Dave Carney?, The Texas Observer
- Juárez's funeral industry tries to adapt as number of homicides dies down, El Paso Times
- Lifting of horse slaughter ban reignites debate in Texas, nationwide, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- For Candidates, Up Close and Personal Is in the Past, The New York Times