White House hopeful Rick Perry has at least some supporters in the Democratic stronghold of Chicago -- President Barack Obama's re-election team.This could be a couple of things. It could be a legitimate opinion by a poorly-informed campaign aide, or it could be a rope-a-dope designed to make Republicans think twice about Perry.
The Texas governor, a social and fiscal conservative, is seen by Obama's top election campaigners and fundraisers as easier to beat than the more moderate Mitt Romney in the presidential election.
"I was praying Perry would get in the race," said a former White House aide closely linked to Obama's campaign.
While Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago will not talk on the record about possible election rivals, fundraisers, senior activists and influential Chicagoans close to the president say Perry's more polarizing views make him a bigger target for the Democrat in a general election.
Perry has quickly leaped into second place in polls of Republicans since announcing his candidacy last weekend. But he caused a fuss with harsh criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that was shunned even by some Republicans.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, tops the Republican field in polls and in the fundraising race.
If it's the latter, it won't work. If it's the former, this aide doesn't understand a very important factor in election dynamics - voter enthusiasm. Near as I can tell there is almost no enthusiasm among Republicans, and especially conservatives, for Mitt Romney. He's seen as the "next guy in line" who the GOP has a bad habit of nominating (see Dole, Bob, and McCain, John). Republicans are not going to enthusiastically work for the election of Mitt Romney, even if it means ousting Barack Obama. They just won't.
Perry, on the other hand, has already stirred up significant enthusiasm from the conservative base and that will translate into grassroots action on the part of GOP voters. That kind of enthusiasm is infectious and will attract more attention from moderates and independents. Obama can only win if the GOP ranks are dispirited and bored. That's why Mitt Romney is really the guy they want to run against.