Dear Rick: Free advice for running a lean campaign

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Good day Austin:

OK. So it appears that Rick Perry’s presidential campaign is on the ropes.

Strapped for cash, it looks like his campaign team now will be doing what they do for the foreseeable future not for money but for love (or maybe it’s love and the promise of money down the road.).

The long odds against his nomination appear longer than ever.

It’s a terrible bind for Perry, right?

Seeking redemption in a second run for president, he is in danger of flopping yet again.

Yes. Sure.

But if it’s a moment of great peril, it’s also a moment of tremendous opportunity.

Perry must make a virtue of necessity.

Rick Perry in Rockwell City Iowa on Saturday.

Rick Perry in Rockwell City Iowa on Saturday.

Here then, my advice for Rick Perry.

(Note: Last year, I did the same for Wendy Davis, albeit not until after the election.)

Donald Trump wants to turn the sacred act of electing a president into reality TV?

Well, give him a dose of his own reality TV.

If he’s Celebrity Apprentice, you can be Survivor.

If he wants to run for president as a dumbed-down Ross Perot, you can run for president as a more macho Jimmy Carter.

And which one actually ended up president?

From Jeffrey Frank in The New Yorker in May:

Forty years ago, when Jimmy Carter, a former one-term Georgia governor, was running for President, a headline in the Atlanta Constitution said, “Jimmy Who Is Running for What!?” Carter got little respect from the Democratic Party establishment, from the inhabitants of Georgetown, or from the influential Times columnist James Reston, who referred to the five-feet-nine candidate as “Wee Jimmy.” But Carter and his so-called Peanut Brigade had a plan: to spend a lot of time in Iowa, a state with a curious tradition—voting in highly personal caucuses—where George McGovern had, four years earlier, almost defeated the front-runner, Edmund Muskie. Although he finished ten points behind “uncommitted,” Carter won the state. Assessing Carter’s talent and endurance, a few political journalists guessed the future, and may have “invented” the Iowa caucuses by focussing on Carter and treating his victory as one of primary importance.

What has since become clear is that participants and observers at the time, in an unacknowledged, unplanned collaboration, were conducting a political experiment: to discover whether it was possible for a “Jimmy Who?” to run for President with little money (Carter and his volunteers often slept in the homes of supporters), no major backers, and a mostly skeptical press, and to do so while facing big-league talent, which then included the senators Henry (Scoop) Jackson, of Washington, and Birch Bayh, of Indiana; the former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey; and the thirty-eight-year-old governor of California, Jerry Brown.

ACCOMMODATIONS

From now on, no more hotels. You’re staying at the homes of supporters.

Your super PAC, Opportunity and Freedom PAC (OAFPAC), can create a new app – Rickbnb – to place you each night.

In Iowa, there are 99 counties. That’s 99 Nights with Rick Perry.

You’re the king of retail politics.

Double down on that.

Make like Trump and instead of waiting to be invited onto the Sunday and morning shows, simply dial in.

I suggest a quick call-in to Morning Joe each morning you are in a new home where you spent the night.

Just say:

“Hi, good morning Joe, Mika, I’m here in Defiance, Iowa, population 283. Just had a great night’s sleep at the beautiful home of Willis and Francine Jorgenson, and I thought my mom made great pancakes until I tried Francine’s blueberry flapjacks, man oh man.

“Oh. Wait. Goodbye Bobby. That’s their boy Bobby heading off to school. Great kid. Closing in on being an Eagle Scout, just like me.”

Hand the phone to Francine, who tells Joe and Mika a little bit about what a wonderful place Defiance is and what a pleasant guest you’ve been. No airs at all. Get the phone back.

“Got to run Joe, Mika. Got some chores to do. Tomorrow I’ll be staying in Marathon, Iowa, population 242. talk then.”

And yes, do some chores.

Chop some wood. Clear some brush. Harvest some corn. Feed some chickens. Milk some cows. Help birth a foal. You are, as you always tell people, the child of tenant farmers. You have a degree in animal husbandry. You were Texas agriculture commissioner.

Whenever possible, climb on a John Deere, mount a horse.

You’re a pilot. Do some crop dusting.

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That would be national news.

And, I know that you don’t need to be told this, but always make your bed.

From the New York Times,

Jerry Brown in his 1992 presidential bid earned a reputation as a messy house guest, leaving damp towels on the floor and his bed unmade.

Yikes.

 

TRANSPORTATION

This one’s easy. OAFPAC just develops another new app – Perry Uber Alles.

I guarantee people would drive great distances at any time of the day or night for the chance to take Rick Perry from Point A to B.

 

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A candidate for president can basically eat for free.

But, just to reinforce your image of living off the land, at least once month, go literal and forage for breakfast, hunt for dinner.

Let Trump compete with coverage of your freshly killed venison dinner at the Titonka (pop. 466) Community Center.

Meanwhile, remind folks that you are the governor – and as far as I know the only governor in the history of the United States – to shoot a coyote while jogging, and to protect your puppy.

And I know this opportunity may not present itself, but if there is the slightest opportunity to shoot another coyote while jogging, seize it.

Better yet, if the opportunity presents itself, shoot a mad dog making its menacing way down Main Street, removing your glasses just like Gregory Peck did as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, to take aim.

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EXPLOIT YOUR GOOD LOOKS

Let’s face it. You are the best looking, most macho guy in the race.

Work it.

Compared to you, Marco Rubio is a kid, Rand Paul is a punk, Chris Christie is Sydney Greenstreet to your Humphrey Bogart, and Mike Huckabee – well you’re the cowboy hero who walks into the saloon, and orders a whiskey – and leave the bottle – and he’s the portly, aproned barkeep who dutifully fetches it for you and then ducks behind the bar when the shooting starts.

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And your glasses are so much more studly than Jeb Bush’s. What are those? LensCrafters?

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And Ted Cruz?

Well sure he’s not a pointy-headed left-wing intellectual.

He’s a pointy-headed right-wing intellectual.

Machine Gun Bacon?

Please.

Has he ever shot a coyote while jogging?

Has he ever shot a mad dog making its menacing way down Main Street?

STRESS WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE

You are the longest-serving governor of Texas, the second largest state.

Very good

You are one of only three GOP candidates to have served in the military (and the other two – South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore – don’t really count).

Very good.

But what really and truly makes you unique is that you are the only serious presidential candidate now – and perhaps ever – who is under indictment.

OK.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that you shouldn’t call attention to the fact that you still are facing trial back in Texas.

But your high water mark in the polls was after your indictment.

Why?

Because people (at least Republican people) saw you as a tough guy, defiant, standing up for what’s right and bravely paying a price for it.

Remember Willie Horton?

Of course. Helped make George H.W. Bush president.

Make Rosemary Lehmberg a household name.

 

Cruz gets all this credit for a 21-hour mock filibuster on the Senate floor – reading Green Eggs and Ham – and for risking cross looks from his Senate colleagues for calling Mitch McConnell a liar.

Oh my. How brave.

But you’re risking 99 years in prison.

That’s putting something on the line.

That’s grit.

And the great virtue of bringing the indictment front and center is then, if the remaining count is thrown out, you an proclaim a great victory and people will know what you are talking about, and if you have to go to trial in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, you can turn it into the ultimate reality Court TV drama.

Compete with that, Donald Trump. Eat your heart out Carly Fiorina.

 

Mug shot art by SABO

Mug shot art by SABO

If you’re acquitted, the eyes of the nation upon you, you’ll be a hero

And if you’re convicted? Well, that’s not so good.

But that was going to be the case no matter what.

In the meantime, roll the dice.

THEMES

You’re the 1950s American hero.

Small town America upbringing.

Flyboy.

Strong silent type.

Here you are talking at a meet-and-greet in Rockwell City, Iowa, on Saturday.

You know I believe in being a humble person. I believe in being an individual of humility. To me that’s what a public servant is about, to be an humble {for some reason, this time and this time only you  pronounce “humble,” with a silent “h,” Cockney style] with humility public servant, but to be stronger than blue steel when it comes to standing up for what you believe in.

Well, we could probably tighten up the “humble with humility” bit and get a consistent take on pronouncing the “h,” but I like “stronger than blue steel.”

Rick Perry: Stronger than Blue Steel.

That’s good.

But blue steel.

Blue steel.

Where do I know that from?

Oh yeah, right.

 

Well, it’s still good.

But even better there is this passage a short time later in Rockwell City.

You said:

George Will did a column over the course of the last couple of weeks and he wrote about a Texas Supreme Court justice by the name of Don Willett, and he juxtapositioned him to John Roberts and talked about what a  strict constructionist and a strict constitutionalist Don Willett is and what a principled justice he was and what a brilliant scholar he was and he said, the next president of the United States, if they want to put a Supreme Court justice on the court that they can be proud of, that is not going to be squishy down the road, make that first appointment be Don Willett.

I appointed Don Willett to the Texas Supreme Court, I do not do squishy on judges.

That is excellent. Attention OAFPAC; Billboards dotting the Iowa landscape:

“I do not do squishy.” Rick Perry for President.

Wait. What? Is this for real?

Trump. You like Willett? You can thank Rick “Blue Steel” Perry.

 

 FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Jimmy Carter’s Peanut Brigade of Georgians were very effective campaigning on his behalf.

You could have his Paint Creek Brigade.

OAFPAC could have weekend round-trip charters from DFW to Des Moines.

Better yet, pickup caravans from Texas to Iowa.

You named virtually every appointed official in the state of Texas. Call them all, remind them of where they’d be without you, and ask which weekend is most convenient for them to come to Iowa.

You were surrounded by Navy SEALS and other American heroes when you announced for president.

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Many of them joined you for a subsequent motorcycle Ride with Rick in Iowa.

You should bring them back for a ride across the length and breadth of Iowa – including American Sniper widow Tara Kyle – and all of you staying in local homes along the way.

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Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell is like a son to you and Anita. He should be campaigning with you like a son.

And Anita. Where’s Anita?

If she wants the new place in Round Top to be the summer White House and not all-year digs, she needs to be in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina right away. There’s no time to waste.

 

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Good luck.

 

 

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