President Rick Perry. That's right. Rick Perry will be the next President of the United States.
I'm not cheerleading that statement. In fact, I will soon post a column explaining why I'm not a Perry fan. No, that is a prediction. And in my mind, there is only one man who stands between Perry and the White House: Chris Christie.
I don't think you can overstate how vulnerable Barack Obama is. First, as the New York Times pointed out, "“no American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2 percent.” The unemployment rate is not now below 7.2% (granted...an arbitrary figure that needs nuanced analysis...as Nate Silver provided) and doesn't appear headed that way...at least not quickly.
Second, look at the approval rating of the last 12 presidents at this point in their presidency:
- Truman: 55%
- Eisenhower: 70%
- Kennedy: 61%
- Johnson: 48%
- Nixon: 49%
- Ford: 53%
- Carter: 33%
- Reagan: 44%
- GHW Bush: 71%
- Clinton: 46%
- GW Bush: 60%
- Obama: 39%
Third, how do you think this commercial is going to play a year from now? (Hint - not well.)
So...the point is, Barack Obama is very vulnerable. And, unless Perry pulls a Chris-Webber-timeout-in-the-1993-NCAA-Finals style choke job (which, he totally could), I think Rick Perry will be the GOP nominee to face this very vulnerable president.
Mitt Romney is really Perry's only competition. (No matter how you or I feel about them, Bachmann and Paul have no chance.) Rick Perry has the best sales pitch in the race: "I've created half the jobs in America since 2009." Mitt Romney has the worst tag line in the race: "I created the model for Obamacare." Perry can out alpha-male every candidate in the race...and that superficial aesthetic counts for something.
I don't think Romney "fills the room" enough to go toe-to-toe with Perry. In fact, I don't think anyone does...except for Chris Christie. I think Christie could come in and pit his big, combative, personality against Perry's big, combative, personality and win. Perry is practiced and Christie is authentic. Perry is populist and Christie has never heard of a focus group. Perry is polished and Christie is fat...and it works for him. In the midst of this battle Romney, Bachmann and whoever else dare stick around would shrink and shuffle off the stage.
I understand this analysis is skin deep - or ... at best - personality deep. This takes no account of the candidates' substance, of their positions. But guess what...that's how most of America votes. And I think unless Chris Christie gets in...America will vote for Rick Perry.