The current race for the Republican presidential nomination is more turbulent than ever. A month after her Iowa straw poll victory Michele Bachmann is struggling for headlines, and Mitt Romney – once the unstoppable Republican frontrunner – is locked in a head-to-head battle with Rick Perry, who has charmed his way to the lead a month after formally announcing his candidacy.
The recent CNN/Tea Party debates cemented Perry’s status as the one to beat. Former frontrunners Romney and Bachmann attacked Perry’s 10-year record as governor with previously unseen vigour, painting a huge target on Perry’s back while confirming him as their biggest threat.
Most importantly, however, the debates marked a crucial shift in the Republican race. For the past year, Romney has enjoyed a relatively unchallenged lead, and has mainly ignored vocal attacks and criticism from his competitors. Now, though, with Perry’s emergence as the seemingly preferred candidate, Romney’s change in demeanor reflects a shift to urgency in his campaign.
This week, Romney received the endorsement of Minnesota Governor (and previous challenger) Tim Pawlenty. Meanwhile, Perry is quickly racking up endorsements from top Republican politicians, and significantly overshadowing Pawlenty’s endorsement of Romney. On Monday, Perry received the support of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, America’s first Indian-American governor. On Tuesday, Perry then received the endorsement of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Sandoval’s endorsement is a key win for Perry in a number of factors: Sandoval is a Hispanic governor from a crucial November swing state – a swing state that voted for Mitt Romney in the last Republican presidential primary.
Perry is also scheduled to appear with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell later this week. McDonnell is the chair of the Republican Governors’ Association, and has yet to formally endorse any Republican presidential candidate.
As for the other Republican candidates, there’s not much to be said. Bachmann continues to be her own worst enemy with persistent verbal missteps, such as her recent erroneous remarks about vaccines during the debates, while Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich are rarely mentioned these days. Jon Huntsman continues to be an intelligent yet overlooked candidate in the race, and Ron Paul has the distinct misfortune of being Ron Paul. In the meantime, Perry holds a sizable lead in most national polls. This week's USA Today/Gallup Poll has Perry leading at 31 percent, followed by Romney at 24 percent; Ron Paul has surged ahead of Bachmann, with 13 percent.
At this point in the race, it’s no longer anyone’s game. After Bachmann, Romney, Santorum, and Ron Paul collectively ganged up on Perry in last Monday’s debates, they only intensified his media spotlight. Furthermore, if Perry can continue to rack up key gubernatorial endorsements, he will look more and more electable, and his campaign will only continue to gain steam.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.