Can Rick Perry Win Moderate Voters?

As I and many others have written, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has the clear potential to win the Republican nomination, in large part because of his appeal to the hardcore-conservative/Tea Party wing of the GOP. The main knock on Perry from fellow Republicans is that he's too divisive and brashly right wing to ever appeal to moderate Republicans, independents, and women (I realize there's overlap among those groups). I think this anti-Perry ad from the Texas Democratic Party offers of good glimpse of how this could become a problem for him. The ad's intent seems to be to embarrass Perry before Republican voters by pointing out that, for example, he accepted a lot of stimulus money despite his criticism of the plan. I doubt that will have much effect. But about halfway through the ad is footage of Perry grinning and fist-bumping Rush Limbaugh (was that a "terrorist fist bump," I wonder?). That's the sort of thing that I imagine could be quite problematic for Perry in a general election. To persuade moderates and others whose support he'll need to win, Perry will have to get them to overlook the "Texas governor" thing -- no small task, although I can easily envision a scenario in which a lousy economy and a Perry campaign built around his job-creation record in Texas could move such people to support him. But footage like this of him and Limbaugh, in the hands of even a moderately talented ad maker, seem like they could be pretty deadly:


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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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