After a spectacular rise to the top of the GOP presidential field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now experiencing "an almost equally dramatic decline." The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that Perry has lost roughly half of his support over the last month, following a string of disappointing debate performances and other setbacks — most recently, a potentially damaging revelation about the racially tinged former name of Perry's Texas hunting camp. Is this just part of the ups and downs of a presidential campaign, or is Perry's rapid fall truly rare for a top-tier candidate?
Perry's implosion is one for the record books: It's hard to "truly grasp the full scope of Perry's train wreck campaign," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. In two short months, he has suggested Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke be lynched, doubled down on his assertion that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, called climate change a "contrived phony mess," and accused conservatives of having no heart if they oppose his policy to let illegal immigrants pay in-state college tuition. Frontrunners come and frontrunners go, but few, if any, have ever matched such a "spectacular fall from grace."
"Rick Perry's spectacular fall from grace"
There's nothing unusual about Perry's troubles: Perry isn't the first candidate whose appeal faded after a quick rise, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Just this year, the same thing happened to Tim Pawlenty, and then Michele Bachmann. Conservatives who can't stomach the moderate early frontrunner, Mitt Romney, carried Perry to the front of the pack as soon as he entered the race. But "the not-Romney contingent" hasn't found its home yet, so once again, it has decided to "pick up and park somewhere else for awhile."
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Perry is down, but far from out: Perry may have "paid a steep price for so many fumbles in such a short period of time," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. But some of the things people are calling gaffes — his climate change position, for example — probably did him no harm with voters. And even if his true missteps have cost him his polling lead over Romney, he's still quite popular with the GOP base, especially Tea Partiers. Perry is "hardly out of the picture here."
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