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Perry: Santorum Doesn't Have What It Takes To Win Perry: Santorum Doesn't Have What It Takes To Win

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Campaign 2012

Perry: Santorum Doesn't Have What It Takes To Win

In the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, it's Rick vs. Rick

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Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a campaign stop in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. ((AP Photo/Charlie Riedel))

DES MOINES, Iowa – Rick Perry kicked off his last full day of campaigning in Iowa today with a round of TV interviews that made one thing clear: he has his sights firmly trained on Rick Santorum in a last-minute attempt to woo Iowa evangelicals.

The sharpest element of Perry's multi-pronged attack came over electability. Going for the jugular on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the Texas governor noted that Santorum lost his 2006 Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania by a wide margin. The unspoken point was that Perry has never lost a race.

 

“He got beat by 18 points in his last race,” Perry said. “This guy has proven that he can’t win races when it matters against a liberal Democrat. Rick is a fine man, but his rhetoric doesn’t match up with his record at all.”

Perry also contended that of the three candidates who are making the strongest appeals to evangelical voters – himself, Santorum, and Rep. Michele Bachmann -- he is the best positioned to carry his campaign beyond Iowa.
 
“Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann don’t have a national organization in place nor the fundraising ability to go forward out of Iowa, and so I’m the only one that actually has that ability,” Perry said on Fox and Friends, pledging to carry his campaign into South Carolina, Florida and Nevada. His campaign announced last week that he will travel directly to South Carolina following the Iowa caucuses and double back to New Hampshire next weekend to participate in two debates ahead of the Granite State primary.

In his third line of attack, Perry reinforced his campaign-trail argument that Santorum --who served in the House before winning two Senate terms -- is a creature of Washington. “You got Rick Santorum who’s talked about being a fiscal conservative but he’s voted eight times to raise the debt ceiling. He’s raised the debt ceiling more than Obama has. He’s serial earmarker and as a matter of fact stood up as late as yesterday and said he was proud of all those earmarks,” Perry said on NBC’s Today show.

The final Des Moines Register poll released Saturday showed Santorum in third place with 15 percent of the vote while Perry trails in fifth place – just one point behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – with 11 percent. Breaking into the top three or four slots on caucus night will require him to further capture the support of undecided voters. In his NBC interview, he expressed confidence in his ground game, which includes over 1,500 precinct captains and 500 volunteers, most of them from Texas, to help contact voters.

Amid his final push, Perry has had to deal with the distraction to his campaign of a Politico story published last Friday that reported damaging internal strife between a long-time crew of Texas staff and some of the national aides brought in to help his struggling campaign last fall. Perry, who claims not to have read the story, has pushed back hard against it for its reliance on anonymous sources.
 
“When an organization that is supposedly legitimate will not name names that tells me that they’re listening to rumor and innuendo. This is a total inside the Beltway story, my campaign’s working smoothly,” he said on Fox and Friends. In an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen over the weekend, Perry refused to discuss the story if Allen couldn’t provide names.

Perry’s Iowa schedule included a rally in the aptly named town of Perry on Monday night and two employee town halls at Des Moines insurance agencies on Tuesday. He brought in a raft of big names to help him close out the campaign, among them Forbes CEO and onetime candidate Steve Forbes, Louisiana Gov. Jindal, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and country music star Larry Gatlin.

 
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