Rick Perry warned Wednesday that Donald Trump’s “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense” could relegate the GOP to minor-party status.
In his address, organized by the Opportunity and Freedom PAC supporting his candidacy, Perry attacked liberal policies and the failings of the Obama administration at home and abroad but directed the bulk of his fire against Trump, who is leading Republican polls nationally.
By contrast, Perry is just barely hanging on to the final spot on Fox News’s debate stage. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, he is in 10th place, with 2 percent support. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are hot on his heels.
Fox News is capping the Aug. 6 debate at 10 contestants based on national polling numbers.
While most of the Republicans running for president have merely detoured into attacks or stray denouncements of remarks made by Trump, Perry has established himself as Trump’s most frequent and vocal critic in the GOP.
Republicans say engaging with Trump is an effective strategy for Perry with the potential to raise his standing in the high-stakes scramble to qualify for the Fox News debate.
“Presidential campaigns are a marathon, but there are times when you’ll have to sprint, and everyone is sprinting right now to get on that debate stage,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Being civil and playing by the normal rules of etiquette hasn’t worked for him so far, so why not hit Trump square in the nose for the media attention, if for nothing else.”
“Trump is a meteor that Perry can just hook on to and take for a ride,” O’Connell said.