Texas Governor Rick Perry is officially on the 2012 presidential campaign trail and meeting Iowan locals. Governor Perry introduced himself to Iowa voters in Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s hometown of Waterloo on Sunday. Rep. Bachmann and Senator Santorum also spoke to crowds in the same Waterloo Ballroom. It appears from various reports, that Bachmann was kept away from supporters and reporters while Perry immersed himself into the crowds.
This is interesting. Considering from my own experience with Mr. Perry in the past few months at various political functions, he was actually kept away from crowds and reporters’ questions quite often, while Rep. Bachmann, prior her presidential bid was much more accessible to reporters on Capitol Hill.
It should be noted that Rick Santorum made sure the press knew he was there despite the main focus on a Perry v. Bachmann dynamic. Given Mr. Santorum’s performance at the debate in Ames and his surge in the straw poll placing him in 4th place, could his campaign be a political thorn for future front runners?
Here’s some analysis from political observers at the event in Waterloo on Sunday: (all emphasis below is mine)
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air:
Perry made a good start with a friendly crowd. He used a mobile, dynamic style and emphasized the commonalities between the agricultural states of Texas and Iowa. Perry spoke of the difficult farming life and his formative years in small-town Texas, as well as spending a surprising amount of time talking about his military experience.
Morrissey contrasted Perry’s speech with Bachmann’s speech:
In contrast, Bachmann’s reception seemed less enthusiastic. The lighting had to be changed before Bachmann spoke, apparently at the campaign’s insistence, which delayed her entrance and interfered with the timing of her entrance announcement. But more puzzlingly, Bachmann didn’t arrive to mix with the crowd before the event started, waiting until she was scheduled to speak to enter the Electric Ballroom.
Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin of Politico:
Perry arrived early, as did former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The Texas governor let a media throng grow and dissolve before working his way across the room to sit at table after table, shake hand after hand, pose for photographs and listen politely to a windy Abraham Lincoln impersonator, paying respect to a state that expects candidates, no matter their fame, to be accessible.
But Bachmann campaigned like a celebrity. And the event highlighted the brittle, presidential-style cocoon that has become her campaign’s signature: a routine of late entries, unexplained absences, quick exits, sharp-elbowed handlers with matching lapel pins, and pre-selected questioners.
She camped out in her bus, parked on the street in front of a nearby Ramada Hotel, until it was time to take the stage. Even after a local official’s introduction, Bachmann was nowhere to be found. It was not until a second staffer assured her that the lighting had been changed and a second introduction piped over the loudspeakers that she entered the former dance hall here. By the time she made her big entrance to bright lights and blaring music, the crowd seemed puzzled.
Jason Embry of the Statesman:
Perry and Bachmann didn’t speak to each other, weren’t on stage at the same time and made no direct mention of each other. But the ways they approached the event itself couldn’t have been more different, and perhaps offered a preview of the contrasting ways in which they will meet Hawkeye State voters.
Perry arrived more than an hour before his speaking slot. Mobbed by reporters and photographers from the moment he walked in, the newly minted candidate stopped at any open seat he could find to mingle with the Iowans waiting patiently for the program to begin.
In his gubernatorial campaigns, Perry usually goes to great lengths to avoid running into his opponents, and he usually arrives at events shortly before his remarks and departs shortly after.
But not this Perry. He listened intently to each of the six Iowans at his table (his family sat elsewhere and his aides stood off to the side) while they ate a dinner of pork roast, chicken, green beans, twice-baked potatoes and rolls. He sat through speeches from local politicians whom he had probably never heard of until recently, plus an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.
After his remarks and a few audience questions, Perry immediately returned to his table. Then the emcee announced Bachmann, who had not yet entered the building and was outside waiting on her campaign bus. Perry continued to shake the hands around him as Bachmann’s entrance music played and played - for about four minutes. Eventually, after another introduction, she entered the building and made her way to the podium.
“It’s been consistent with Bachmann’s campaign — no time with the people,” said Judd Saul the founder of the Cedar Valley Tea Party. “People have not gotten the opportunity to have a real conversation with Bachmann.”
Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register :
In his speech, Perry branded himself as the candidate who can best beat President Barack Obama in the general election, based on his record of job creation in Texas. Perry laid out four principles: Spend less than you take in; keep taxes low, yet maintain essential government services; maintain the minimum yet fair regulatory climate; and enact legal reforms to prevent “oversuing.”
“The president of the United States has a pen, and it’s called a veto pen, and I will use it until the ink runs out if that’s what it takes to get the message that we’re not spending all the money,” Perry said to a cheering crowd.
Also speaking were Bachmann, a U.S. representative from Minnesota and winner of Saturday’s Iowa straw poll, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Bachmann held up a copy of the Waterloo Courier with her picture proclaiming her straw poll win.
“I needed to come home and say thank you to all of you … for what you have done,” she said, noting she had attended a family reunion earlier in the day.
Bachmann has touted many of the same themes sounded by Perry, especially lower taxes and less government spending, in campaign stops across Iowa leading up to the straw poll. She again emphasized those goals Sunday.
“We are in a period now where we are the brokest nation in history,” Bachmann said.
Santorum touted his fourth-place finish at the straw poll, saying his campaign considered it “a straw poll victory.” He highlighted his conservative values, both fiscal and social.