In recent weeks I have been ridiculed, derided, mocked and I believe even spit upon — though I was very near Wall Street at the time and it might have been rain-drops — for my prediction this past summer that Rick Perry would win the GOP nomination and beat President Obama in 2012.
Last night I swear I thought my pet hound was mocking me too.
Which is fine!
Political predictions sometimes are dead on — as I was in my 2006 prediction of Obama taking it all — and sometimes not so much.
So it was with special interest I caught some of the press tour Governor Perry did across the morning shows this today. With great humility, he was engaging, able to laugh at his own gaffe and in all sincerity he came across as likable.
When I made the prediction this summer, I didn’t personally realize his extremely limited experience in the debate world. I wasn’t even aware that he’d only participated in four debates in the last decade. He doubled that number within less than a month of being on the trail.
But being President isn’t about debates; it’s about discretion, discernment and decisions.
The five reasons I asserted that Governor Perry would have the best shot at beating Obama were simple ones: He decisively created more jobs than Obama. He greatly respects and tries to encourage small businesses. He has a clear understanding of federalism and what states shouldn’t be forced into. He has solid core convictions that replicate most of America. And he could unite the core conservative Democrats, Republicans and Independents across the nation on economic, social and defense policy.
All five of those reasons remain — even now — solidly relevant and valid.
However, he’s certainly nowhere near where I thought he’d be by now. But before all the pundits completely write him off, let me proffer the four things he’s got to do to get back in the game.
4. Remain humble, human and likable: Self-deprecating humor worked amazingly well for President Bush. Everyone watching politics at present (which is very few compared to the votes to be cast next year) already dislikes the fact that Mitt Romney is stiff and unflinching. Americans also don’t mind a candidate being flawed. Hey… the nation elected Bill Clinton, twice!
3. Turn the gaffe into a theme: And in a way he already has. Gov. Perry had repeatedly said in stump speeches how much he wants to make Washington “inconsequential to the lives of everyday Americans.” This is a red-meat applause line that gets the Tea Party, small government Democrats and Republicans charged. But there’s a whole theme of “Forget Washington” ideas that could make for valid points of policy.
2. Stay on offense: The Wall Street Journal raved about both his energy and tax/economic plans. He’s got tremendous skill on protecting the border and a high degree of knowledge on national security. He also represents the codes of morality, values and conscience that the nation seeks in a leader, and no divorce, sex harassment, or issue flip-flop scandals to stare down.
1. Fight like mad, for the future of America: The people of this nation will forgive many flaws. What they wish to see in their leader is an all out advocate for welfare of the nation, coupled with the discipline of constitutional roots. So give it them. Take on Obama, show them the future with job creation under a Perry economy. Pledge to keep your watchful eye on terrorists and other harmful elements. Do your best 24 hours a day to make the American PEOPLE, their economic success, and their family’s safety the goal of your presidency, and do it until you drop.
In the end, winning the Presidency is about winning a very long marathon. I’m not sure if my prediction about Rick Perry will come true. But the reasons I gave for his narrative being the best one to face President Obama in the general election still hold. After all, which person would you vote for in the general election: the guy who lost two million jobs for the nation, or the guy who created nearly half of all new jobs in the nation over that same period of time? And, who wants to get Washington D.C.’s influence out of your life so badly that he literally forgot part of that bureaucratic nightmare called the Federal Government?
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of “The Kevin McCullough Show” weekdays (7-9am EST) & “Baldwin/McCullough Radio” Saturdays (9-11pm EST) on 289 stations. His newest best-selling hardcover from Thomas Nelson Publishers, “No He Can’t: How Barack Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change” is in stores now.