Team Romney’s Goal: Quash Rick Perry Now

Despite Herman Cain’s co-frontrunner status and Rick Perry’s decline in the polls, Team Romney is focused on ending Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential bid as soon as possible. Jim O’Sullivan at the NationalJournal has more:

In a new website, in a controversial ad that was launched and then quickly pulled, and in the now-infamous touching episode during Tuesday’s debate, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is handling rival Rick Perry as if the Texas governor’s poll numbers were not at a paltry single digit. He is, in short, treating Perry more and more like Perry has Herman Cain’s numbers.

Although Perry’s fundraising has slowed from its supersonic pace of late summer, recent federal-election records show him keeping pace with Romney in the money chase and even beating the front-runner during some key time periods, like the final week before the third quarter closed, when Perry raised an impressive $3.7 million and Romney brought in nearly as much, $3.36 million.

If Romney can fatally weaken Perry now, it would allow him to dominate in the early primaries. Strategically, a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses would be followed by an anticipated victory in the New Hampshire primary, resulting in strong momentum as the voting shifts to South Carolina and Florida.

Meanwhile, Romney has all but ignored businessman Cain, who has surged in the polls and now is Romney’s closest competitor in most of the recent national polls. “(Romney) is likely to be the nominee,” Lehane said, “and really only Perry can stand in the way of that. Of the current people in the field, the one who is most likely to be a challenger at the end of the day is the one who has the resources to go the distance.”

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