Matt Lewis

Why Rick Perry will win the ‘blogger primary’ (and why it matters)

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

Politico is speculating that Texas Governor Rick Perry will make his intentions to run for president known this Saturday at the RedState Gathering in South Carolina. This, of course, would be huge news — and might even threaten to partially overshadow the results of the Ames, Iowa straw poll taking place that day.

It’s still not clear whether Perry might make a formal announcement on Saturday, or merely use the speech as an opportunity “to make clear that he’s running for president.” Either way, while some observers may be surprised Perry would choose this venue for such an important announcement, I’m not one of them.

The truth is that Perry — probably more than any of his peers — has long grasped the significance of the conservative blogosphere.

In January of 2010, for example, Perry hosted a “blogger summit” in Austin (which I attended). This was an opportunity for national bloggers like Andrew Breitbart and Roger L. Simon to address local Texas conservative bloggers. But it was also a chance for Perry to get to know some national and state-based bloggers over dinner (and a trip to the gun range).

The 2010 RedState Gathering (which I also attended) took place in Austin later that September. Perry spoke at the event — hosted a reception — and organized a clay pigeon shooting outing for bloggers.

Like traditional reporters, bloggers love access, and while Perry declined to meet with newspaper editorial boards during his primary race against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, he went out of his way to make himself available to conservative bloggers — both big and small. He held conference calls and made himself available for interviews and podcasts. (And unlike some politicians who might turn people off upon meeting them — meeting Rick Perry is tantamount to liking Rick Perry.)

This sort of blogger outreach matters — especially in primaries. In 2008, John McCain’s outreach earned him much more favorable coverage than he might otherwise have garnered from conservative bloggers. Tim Pawlenty tried to replicate this, but Perry (whose positions are more in line with conservatives than McCain’s were) seems well-positioned to replicate McCain’s success.

If he indeed announces his intentions this weekend in South Carolina (I will — once again — be on hand), it would be entirely fitting and proper. Either way, you should expect a large percentage of conservative bloggers for sites like RedState.com, and others, to jump on the Perry bandwagon. And in a GOP primary, conservative bloggers — especially prominent and respected voices like Erick Erickson — can have a dramatic influence…

  • http://twitter.com/veritasthorn Jeff Sexton

    Here’s the thing: Erick Erickson MAY help a man win a GOP Primary – but he isn’t exactly known for helping a man win a National Election. Even in Statewide races, his record approaches 50/50 on even winning the GOP nomination, right Governor Handel? Oh wait…

    But more to the point about “conservatives” and Perry in general: One of the things “conservatives” hate about Obamacare the most is the “individual mandate”, right? How then can you DARE support someone who forced every single girl in his State to have a drug injected into them, whether they or their parents wanted it or not???? Personally, I’d prefer forcing me to buy insurance (which already happens, even under Rick Perry himself) over FORCING ME TO INJECT DRUGS.

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  • Adam D

    Great points! 2010 really demonstrated the significance of bloggers. Just look at Marco Rubio.  Marco Rubio went from an unknown in Florida who was given no chance by Republican establishment to defeat the sitting Governor in a senate race to the front runner and national presence thanks to conservative bloggers. Marco Rubio defeated Charlie Crist by 20% in a three way race and is now going to be the likely VP selection once the Republican nomination has been decided. Rick Perry is wise to talk to bloggers versus editorial boards. 

  • Robert Morrow

    Rick Perry always sucks up to bloggers, talk show hosts (Glenn Beck, Michael Reagan, name 10 more), extremists preachers, etc. But he is counterfeit money. It is not what a person SAYS, it is what he DOES. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is gold and has been gold for 35 years. Rick Perry likes to BORROW a lot of money down here in Texas and he is a personal fraud, too.

    Likes to Borrow LOTS of Billions – Perry, just like the Wash DC Republicans, likes to Borrow lots of money and then he pretends paying the debt service is not a huge tax. So he is a taxer. Perry has greatly increased debt in Texas as he borrows huge amounts of money for toll roads, tuition bonds for college buildings, water projects. Perry even supported Texas borrowing $3 billion for cancer research. Then there is the whopping new $30 billion in toll road debt. Addressing transportation in his 2001 state of the state speech, Perry said, “I would like for both chambers to pass a bonding program to jump-start construction across our state.” That one sentence has put Texans under billions and billions of toll road debt time bombs. Debt increase has far outstripped the inflation rate in Texas under Perry. So much for him being a “full throated fiscal conservative.” The best way to think of career politician Rick Perry is that he is a concierge doing errands and favors for crony capitalists and corporate monopolists. http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2010/mar/04/bill-white/white-says-texas-debt-has-doubled-under-perry/

    • Sandy E

      Ha, once Perry announces, Ron Paul will be nothing but a blip on the radar.  Your arguments against Perry are juvenile, and false.  What else would you expect from a Paulie.  Perry is over the target, and the Paulies are getting desperate.  Ron Paul is doing favors for every fringe group out there including David Duke and the KKK.  Ron Paul doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hades.

    • Anonymous

      Our voters decide on debt by direct votes on bonds at election.

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