WASHINGTON - Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who embarked on a 14-day blitz through South Carolina on Sunday, is waging his last stand in the Palmetto State while the rest of the GOP field battled it out in the New Hampshire on the final day of campaigning before today’s first-in-the-nation primaries.
Written off as done after a disappointing fifth-place finish in last week’s Iowa caucuses, Perry surprised voters and some of his staff by electing to fight on. He decided to forgo New Hampshire, with the exception of his two debate appearances over the weekend, and focus his energy on South Carolina, where he compared himself to the fighters at the Alamo during Texas’s quest for independence.
Yesterday in Anderson, Perry attacked Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, for remarking that he once feared getting a pink slip.
“Now I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips - whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out, because [of] his company Bain Capital with all the jobs that they killed,’’ Perry told the crowd at Mama Penn’s restaurant, according to ABC News.
Perry criticized Romney for Bain’s role in eliminating hundreds of jobs in South Carolina, citing the downsizing of a photo album plant and a steel manufacturer.
“If you’re a victim of Bain Capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain, because he caused it,’’ Perry said.
But Perry’s chances of a resurrection in the state seem slim. He never managed to shine as brightly as he did when he entered the race in August. His series of debate gaffes cemented his plunge.
“He’s placed all his eggs in the South Carolina basket and he really needs to come in second or his days as a serious candidate are probably numbered,’’ said Bill Schneider, a political analyst and resident scholar at Third Way in Washington.
“People sense his heart wasn’t in it, that he’s being put up. He looks like he’d rather be out hunting,’’ Schneider said.
Recent polls of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina rank Perry at or near the bottom, with support hovering at just 2 to 5 percent.
He doesn’t fare any better in New Hampshire, where he remains at the back of the pack with 1 percent support, according to a University of New Hampshire poll released yesterday.