Mitt Romney’s strategy for dealing with Rick Perry is to stay the course. But if Rick Perry gains more steam on the campaign trail, the question will soon become: Can Romney afford to be passive. Only time will tell. Alexander Burns of Politico reports:
To some extent, Romney may not have much of a choice but to stick with his existing strategy. Distrusted by many social conservatives and branded a flip-flopper during his 2008 run, he doesn’t have the option of running to Perry’s right. And he could pay a high price for tweaking his strategy in a way that reinforces the impression that he’s a political opportunist.
But the steady-as-she-goes approach has served Romney well in the 2012 campaign, allowing him to run a tightly focused bid that avoids engaging his GOP rivals.
But Perry is a different and likely tougher challenger than Romney’s other foes — something Romney supporters acknowledge privately. Unlike Bachmann, Perry is a seasoned statewide politician who can compete with Romney in the fight for campaign talent and cash.
The Texas governor has a grass-roots conservative following, a strong fundraising base and — most of all — an economic success story of his own that could allow him to contest Romney’s status as the jobs candidate in the race.
The view among Romney backers is that the former Massachusetts governor has a few assets that still distinguish him from Perry. Chief among those are his business background — leading the investment firm Bain Capital and the consultancy Bain & Co. — and his track record of winning political swing voters.
A Republican strategist who has worked for Romney in the past was blunt about what it would take to beat the Texas governor: “Perry needs to make some mistakes.”