Why Romney Likes Being in a Two-Man Race with 'Governor Sub-Zero'

A pitched battle with Perry plays to the former frontrunner's strengths

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A month ago, Mitt Romney didn't want to talk about his newest rival for the 2012 Republican nomination, Rick Perry. Now it looks like Romney rather enjoys having Perry in the race. Hours after Perry revealed his new thriller political ad in which he calls President Obama "President Zero," Romney responded with a press release attacking Perry's jobs record titled "Governor Sub-Zero." It was his campaign's third Perry-related press release of the day.

Romney's early strategy had been to stay above the fray, focusing on Obama rather than the other candidates. In August, some Republicans, nervous about Perry's electability, thought that if Romney had been a more aggressive campaigner in the first place, Perry would have been too scared to get in the race. Maybe a foil like Perry was what Romney needed to get aggressive. Polls show the primary is becoming a two-man race -- Rasmussen puts Perry at 28 percent, Romney at 24 percent, and the rest far back in the single digits, with longshot Newt Gingrich beating Michele Bachmann, who has fizzled. Romney doesn't have to worry about seven candidates saying he's not conservative enough to deserve the nomination; instead he can focus on one guy saying that and argue that that guy is too conservative to win the general election.
In a town hall in Miami Wednesday, Romney took just 12 minutes to start talking about Perry, The New York TimesJeff Zeleny reports. Screens behind him flashed "Six Questions to Ask Rick Perry About His Social Security Proposal."  Those questions go beyond noting that the Texan says Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme" and looks at the logistics of Perry's suggestion that control of the program should be handed over to the states. The goal is to make Perry answer those questions in Thursday's debate. The Washington Post's Dan Balz reports that Romney's strategy is "either to suggest that the Texas governor would be unable to carry the Republican banner against Obama in a general election or to raise doubts about the depth of Perry's beliefs as a way to give pause to Republicans and independents who will be voting in GOP primaries."
As for the jobs attack, Politico's Jonathan Martin says "Governor Sub-Zero" is very Austin Powers-esque. On the other hand, it's also Mortal Kombat-esque, a comparison Perry might not mind too much:
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