Why Did Perry Get Into the Race, Really?

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Republican consultants at loose ends and looking for work sold the Texas governor a bill of goods about his prospects

So I have this theory about why Gov. Rick Perry decided to run for president, despite what appeared to be his instincts telling him that the job just wasn't for him. There came a point late last Spring when, as you will recall, a number of Republicans who could have posed a challenge to Mitt Romney decided not to. Mitch Daniels's consultants no longer had a horse to ride.

Perry, I think, was sold a bill of goods. You're a governor of Texas, he was told. You have this incredible record on jobs. Romney is gonna get killed by health care and is so vulnerable. The other candidates are jokes. It's gonna be a lot easier than you think. You just have to let Romney self-destruct and you can roll. You can actually be president!

And that's basically what Perry did. He entered the race, dawdled, presented an economic plan late in the game, appeared to have no solid strategy, and thought he could coast. He didn't prepare himself for the discipline required of a modern presidential campaign.

I don't think Perry's consultants pushed him into the race just to make a buck. I legitimately think they thought that the race would be easy, and so the bar for Perry would be much lower than it turned out to be.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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