The Fallen: Lessons of Perry #8

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Jay Townsend here with our continuing series on the Fallen, those who have dropped out of the Presidential race, and what we can learn from what they did right, and wrong.

Today. Rick Perry’s worst mistakes number three.

What do you do when a prominent supporter says something idiotic?

You have about three seconds to put some distance between yourself and the idiot.

At an October meeting of the Value Voters Summit in Washington, Rick Perry was introduced by Robert Jeffress, a conservative Dallas pastor. After introducing Perry, the pastor then proceeded to attack Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, asserting that the faith is a “cult” and stating that Mr. Romney “is not a Christian.”

After the introduction, Governor Perry called Jeffress “quite a leader,” and praised the pastor’s introduction, saying he “knocked it out of the park.”

Saturday morning, conservative commentator Bill Bennett took the conservative pastor to task, and said that Jeffress had given “voice to bigotry” in his remarks. Said Bennett “I would say to Pastor Jeffress: You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and Santorum and Cain and Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good, Sir, in what you had to say.”

Perry should have done what Bennett did before he left Washington.

By letting the issue fester for more than 24 hours and then only timidly putting distance between himself and the pastor, Perry allowed a nasty situation to get worse and he missed a golden opportunity to forcefully denounce the pastor’s intolerance and unnecessary injection of religion into the debate.

Bennett was correct. The pastor did Perry no good. Perry and his staff should have been quicker on their feet, and seized the opportunity to quickly rise above the pastor’s intemperate remarks.

The lesson here to a candidate running for public office? When a prominent supporter goes off the reservation and says something idiotic, YOU need to be the one to set the record straight and you need to do it immediately and forcefully. Not doing it at all will usually come

Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

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