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RICK PERRY: Meet the new frontrunner – The Fix – The Washington Post

September 2, 2011

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/02/2011

Meet the new frontrunner

By Chris Cillizza

FILE – In this Aug. 20, 2011, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to supporters at Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)From the time we began ranking the 2012 Republican presidential candidates late last year, one man — former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — has held down the top slot.

No longer.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry leapfrogs Romney in our latest presidential Line — boosted by a series of national polls showing him on top and a profile as a tough-talking conservative that seems to fit what the Republican primary electorate has been searching for.

The rapidity of Perry’s rise — a month ago he was in single digits in many of these same national polls — is remarkable and speaks to the desire within the party for options beyond the candidates that have been running for months.

But, Perry’s honeymoon period — and make no mistake he is the middle of it right now — will come to an end. And that’s likely to happen next Wednesday when the candidates gather for a debate in California.

Sponsored by NBC and Politico, it will be the first debate that Perry will participate in and, given his newfound frontrunner status, he’s likely to be on the receiving end of most of the verbal jabs from his opponents.

(A super PAC affiliated with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is previewing a potential line of attack against Perry with ads in South Carolina hitting him on his spending record.)

Adding to the challenge for Perry is that Wednesday’s debate — as well as the four other debates between now and mid-October — are somewhat foreign ground for him. He didn’t debate former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) a single time during their relatively competitive 2010 race; he hasn’t been in a debate setting of any kind in 19 months, according to a local Texas television station.

That dearth of debating experience coupled with the to-be-expected jitters of stepping on the presidential stage (literally) for the first time could make for a rocky night for Perry.

How Perry handles the moment will likely determine whether he can build on the momentum he has clearly gained since his entrance into the race less than three weeks ago.

Below is our look at the ten candidates most likely to win the Republican presidential nomination next year. The number one ranked candidate is the most likely to face off against President Obama in 2012.

Have kudos or a critique of our picks? The comments section awaits.

To the Line!…read more

via Meet the new frontrunner – The Fix – The Washington Post.

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