It’s no exaggeration to say that the last few days have been terrible for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations. On Saturday, The Washington Post ran a story on a ranch Perry used to entertain guests in the early days of his political career. Its name? “Niggerhead.” And while Perry insists that the name is an offensive one “that has no place in the modern world,” he has done little to change the title in his decades of ownership. For anyone in public life, owning a “Niggerhead” ranch would be a huge problem for their political future. For Perry -- a white Southerner and governor of a state where vestiges of Jim Crow live on -- it’s potentially disastrous.
As if to add kindling to the fire, the Associated Press has a story today that sheds light Perry’s dealings with mortgage companies as governor. According to the AP, Perry spent $35 million in taxpayer dollars to lure mortgage companies into expanding their business in the state, calling it a national model for creating jobs. “Just as the largest banks began recieving public cash,” the AP writes, “they aggressively ramped up risky lending. Within four years, the banks were out of business and homeowners across Texas faced foreclosure.” Again, a political disaster in a country where millions are underwater on their homes.
And of course, this all comes on top of Perry’s disastrous performance at the Republican presidential debate in Florida two weeks ago, where he took fire from all sides for his outspoken support of a Texas program that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to attend college while paying in-state tuition. In defending his record, he attacked his opponents as “heartless” and alienated the large majority of Republicans who oppose programs for undocumented immigrants. As a result, Perry has seen a precipitous decline in his popularity with Republican presidential voters; in the latest Fox News poll, he draws 19 percent of the vote to Romney’s 23 percent, a 9 percent decline from the last survey.
In short, the once presumptive front-runner has imploded since entering the race two months ago. Once positive GOP elites are fleeing the crash site, and scrambling to find an alternative to Mitt Romney, hence the massive campaign to recruit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another candidate with skeletons lurking in his background.
In all likelihood, the search for a credible anti-Romney will go unfulfilled, and Romney will become the Republican nominee for president. After nearly six years of campaigning – including his 2008 bid for the nomination – Romney is the most disciplined and competent of the hopefuls. Yes, Romney doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm in the GOP rank and file, but in the end, he’ll be the one to lead them into battle.