Romney's Plan to Beat Perry Is Just Like Obama's

Forget Perry's job record, they'll say, he's too extreme for America

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The campaign teams of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have the same plan to defeat Rick Perry. It goes like this: Forget about the jobs thing, Perry's too extreme. The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen reports that Romney's campaign  doesn't think it's time to beat up on Perry yet, since the media and rival candidates are doing such a good job of it already. But when the time comes, Thiessen writes, "Romney's campaign will argue that Perry is against the very idea of Social Security and Medicare, and that he will use Perry's book to scare seniors in early-primary states with large retiree populations, such as Florida and South Carolina." He adds: "The Romney campaign will argue that Perry repels independents."

That sounds a lot like the strategy laid out by former White House spokesman Bill Burton in a weekly memo for the pro-Obama political action committee Priorities USA. Politico's Alexander Burns reports that in Burton's analysis, Perry's provocative statements on the campaign trail are a "powerful statement on how far mainstream Republican ideology has strayed from mainstream Americans." Burton's email reads in part:
Rick Perry thinks that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional -- he wrote it in his book. When the health care debate was heating up, he raised the specter of secession. And when asked about the chairman of the Federal Reserve, he used the word "treasonous." ...
Perry's view that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional is -- to him -- a very real justification for the House Republican plan that would essentially end Medicare. ...
Voters who are disturbed by ending Medicare, what it means when a major governor threatens secession in the 21st century, and what it means for a major national figure to throw around terms like "treason" should be just as worried about this Republican Party as they are about Texas Governor Rick Perry.
One striking difference: immigration. Romney plans to attack Perry from the right on immigration, an issue on which Perry was once more like a compassionate conservative than he is today, as Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin explains. Thiessen says Romney plans to capitalize on that shift:
The Romney campaign also plans to use immigration to drive a wedge between Perry and his conservative base, by highlighting Perry's opposition to a border fence and legislation he signed in 2001 allowing the children of illegal immigrants to attend Texas colleges and universities at in-state tuition. Without mentioning Perry by name, Romney pointed out at a town hall here in Dover that he vetoed similar legislation as governor of Massachusetts, declaring, "If you say, guess what, if you come here illegally, your kids will get [in-state tuition], that draws more people here illegally." Romney strategists believe the immigration issue will be devastating for Perry with Tea Party Republicans across the country -- and especially in important primary states like Arizona.

Obama, meanwhile, is trying to court Latino voters with proposals for immigration reform.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.