Perry Looks To South Carolina To Save His Campaign
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Mitt Romney is hoping the people of South Carolina fall in like with him. That state has the next primary, and we'll go there next to check in on another candidate. Texas Governor Rick Perry set the stage for his presidential campaign in South Carolina last August. It's where he announced he was running for the nomination.
But his campaign could come to an end in the same place where it started. Perry is polling in single digits these days. From Columbia, South Carolina, Ben Philpott of member station KUT has more.
BEN PHILPOTT, BYLINE: There's no sugar-coating Perry's chances right now. He has just over a week to convince South Carolina voters to forget his many stumbles. Perry finished 5th in the Iowa Caucuses and 6th in the New Hampshire primary. And everyone attending Perry's campaign stops, like Lexington resident Glenn Gainey, knows the deal.
GLENN GAINEY: I guess, today, I guess with being down in the polls he's got an uphill battle to fight, you know.
PHILPOTT: You actually wouldn't know by watching candidate Perry on the campaign trail. Wearing a blue Perry for President jacket, his smile wide and his hair firmly in place, you see no trace of the concern the candidate or his campaign must be feeling. And he still packs rooms and gets plenty of applause and laughs.
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I grew up in a house that didn't have indoor facilities. And I shared with people that said we were the real original conservationists. We didn't use a lot of water.
PHILPOTT: Where the desperation does come out is in his latest attacks on frontrunner Mitt Romney. Perry has previously gone after the former Massachusetts governor. But now he's focusing on Romney's time running the venture capital firm he co-founded in the 1980s.
PERRY: And I happen to think that companies like Bain Capital could have come in and helped these companies, if they truly were venture capitalists, but they're not. They're vulture capitalists.
PHILPOTT: Vultures, Perry said, for choosing to close down two businesses in South Carolina, instead of restructuring them so they could stay open. It's a message that resonates with Estelle Morgan of Lexington.
ESTELLE MORGAN: He did fire a lot of people, you know. They just got released from their jobs, and he got the money.
PHILPOTT: But the governor has also taken plenty of criticism for the attack from some in the conservative media. Sean Hannity of Fox News said Perry's remarks sounded like something from Occupy Wall Street. And Rush Limbaugh said it was the way Fidel Castro thinks.
By his second campaign stop yesterday, Perry had stopped using the line. That was just fine for Columbia resident Colleen Morrow. An undecided voter, she came to hear Perry at Doc's BBQ.
COLLEEN MORROW: In capitalism, there are some winners and some losers. And it's unfortunate, but that's how our system works. And I'm not going to condemn Romney for that. I frankly don't know enough about it.
PHILPOTT: But when Perry stopped by her table after his speech, she leaned forward, gave him a hug and let him know she had decided to vote for him. That's one more vote, but just 10 days to go.
For NPR News, I'm Ben Philpott, in Columbia.
GREENE: Some political news from Massachusetts now in one of the nation's most closely watched Senate races. It pits Republican Senator Scott Brown against President Obama's former consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren.
Warren is a leading voice for more regulation on Wall Street, and as it turns out, she's a prolific fundraiser. Her campaign raised an eye-popping $5.7 million last quarter.
Incumbent Scott Brown raised $3.2 million in the same period. Senator Brown still has more money overall in his war chest, but he clearly has a fight on his hands.
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