So it looks like the indications are that Rick Perry, former front-runner, last place finisher in the 2011 Republican Debate Tournament, is not hanging up his brush jacket yet. Despite his very melancholy nigh-concession last night, the Texas governor seems to be headed to South Carolina instead of back home to Austin.
The question is: Why?
Ostensibly, Perry got into the race because of two things, 1. he felt that the President needed to be replaced with a conservative and 2. Mitt Romney, a Bay State ex-progressive, is insufficiently conservative.
Yesterday on CNN, John King brought up the spectre of Fred Thompson. In 2008, after disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Thompson maintained a strong enough position among conservatives to prevent Mike Huckabee from winning South Carolina. As a result, the more moderate McCain won the primary.
The thing is, Fred Thompson knew what he was doing. Thompson liked McCain (he endorsed him in 2000). Thompson knew he himself could not win, but he knew that he could take enough of the conservative vote to hand South Carolina to his mavericky friend.
In contrast, Perry pretty clearly views Romney as a aristrocratic upstart and a phony. If Perry stays in South Carolina, all he does is eat away at votes for Gingrich and Santorum. All this does in strengthen Mitt Romney.
So either Perry knows something that we don’t, or some political consultants are making a nice profit out of lying to the Texas governor. The Anybody-but-Mitt crowd probably should pick up the phone and holler at the Perryites that it’s time for the man to go back home.