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RICK PERRY returns to IOWA leading national polls | DesMoinesRegister.com

September 15, 2011

Perry returns to Iowa leading national polls

To win, observers say he must dampen support for Bachmann

Sep. 14, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry answers questions after speaking in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday. / Steve Helber/Associated Press

By JASON CLAYWORTH

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s two-day return to Iowa today has a hefty agenda: capitalize on his current popularity, modify or test his political rhetoric, and further chip away at Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s support, national and state politicos agree.

It’s his first trip to Iowa since being targeted by the rest of the Republican presidential field at two national debates within the past eight days.

A string of polls has annointed Perry as the national front-runner. But he needs to solidify strength beyond his Southern base, said Charles Cook of the nonpartisan newsletter, “The Cook Political Report,” based in Washington, D.C.

Iowa, host of the nation’s leadoff caucuses, presents a prime opportunity to do that.

“He’s got to make a turn, and the turn is getting to the point where he can compete in places beyond Texas and places outside of the Deep South,” Cook said.

Cook contends that the issue of electability will grow among Republican voters.

Nationally, GOP voters’ support is split and highly fluid now — Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul or Bachmann have ranked in that order in recent polls — but Republicans share the ultimate goal of making President Obama a one-term president.

Here are some strategies that political observers suggest or say Iowans can expect from the three-term governor:

Show he’s electable

Perry doesn’t need to change any stands on key issues important to his base, but he must fine-tune his rhetoric to avoid being painted as a candidate with long-shot odds of winning the general election, Cook said.

via Perry returns to Iowa leading national polls | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com.

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