The Big Conversation:
On Thursday, Rick Perry burnished his latest campaign tactic: easygoing humility.
Perry, beset by flagging poll numbers and a seemingly endless string of gaffes that have eclipsed almost every one of his attempts at a campaign reboot, appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday to talk politics and to poke a little fun at himself.
"It happens, man. Let me tell you. Listen, it just, it happens," Perry said when asked of his notorious brain freeze at a November debate. "Every now and then I call my dogs by the wrong name. I get that wrong, too."
Perry also offered up some advice for rival Herman Cain, dogged by affair allegations: "If there's truth there, then he's gotta have a long conversation with his family and with his supporters. And if there's nothing there, then he needs to stand up and clearly go on about his business."
As RedState's Erick Erickson tweeted of Perry's appearance, which also included talk of Iraq and Social Security, "The @GovernorPerry who was just on Jay Leno could be the GOP nominee and win. That guy needs to get out there often."
The lighthearted appearance came hours after the Perry campaign released a new ad — which aired in Iowa immediately before and after the Tonight Show — playfully mocking the governor's own debate gaffe. "You know, we've all lost our train of thought before, but not many've done it on national TV," Perry says in the spot.
The appearance and ad may signal a new, gentler tack for Perry, whose policy proposals — for a flat tax, a new energy plan and others — have done little to distract from his recent woes.
As Perry told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday: "If there's one story out there that people are going to hear from me over the next 45 days, it's like: 'Listen, you took a look at me when I first got in here and, by reputation, you liked what you saw. We've had our bumps, we've had our hurdles, but give me a second look.'"
- The governor makes a little news at the end of the aforementioned Los Angeles Times piece, playing coy when asked whether he'd consider running again for governor if he isn't elected president: "I'm approaching 62 years old and still feel pretty darn healthy," he says. "And happy."
- The Austin American-Statesman reports that Rick Perry has yet to sign a constitutional amendment, passed in November, that would allow county officials to keep their jobs while filing to run for higher office in 2012. Though a Perry representative said requirements keep the governor from signing the amendment until 15 days after the election, "the bottom line," the Statesman writes, is that "any county officials who file for a different office before Perry signs the election results would automatically lose their jobs."
- Herman Cain said Thursday on Fox News that he'll decide by Monday whether to drop his presidential bid. "The decision could be, we're going to continue with this campaign full speed ahead; the decision could be that we're going to suspend the campaign," Cain told host Sean Hannity, adding that his wife had been hurt by reports that Cain had finanicially supported Ginger White, who this week alleged a 13-year affair with Cain. According to a new Des Moines Register poll, Cain's support has fallen 15 points among GOP voters since late October.
- According to The Dallas Morning News, a loophole in Texas lets railroads use taxpayer dollars to send pollution to other states. Under the arrangement, part of a successful state effort to reduce smog, railroads have exported old, dirty locomotives to cities like Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, where pollution can still drift back to Texas.
"Ron Paul has got probably the best organization and has a very loyal following. He’s got more yard signs and bumper stickers than anybody else. I don’t think he’ll win, but I think he will get 15 to 18 percent. The person who wins is going to probably get 25 percent plus." — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to Politico
- Rick Perry Has Three Strikes Against Him, Vanity Fair
- Obama to Vie for Arizona as Latino Numbers Rise, The New York Times
- Does Romney Have a Moderate Problem?, FiveThirtyEight
- Different Date, Different Turnout, Different Result, The Texas Tribune