Perry Goes Retail

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 18 2012 1:01 PM

Perry Goes Retail

GREER, S.C. -- Earlier this month, Rick Perry had South Carolina pretty much to himself. His ads reintroduced himself to voters. He pinpointed smallish towns on the map, located their main streets, and met every voter he could. The effort hasn't been reflected in polls this week, but hey, I'm a magazine writer, and I give points to candidates who do this stuff instead of monster rallies.

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Perry and an entourage, including his son Griff, strolled from shop to shop chased by embed cameras and -- later -- a group of college students from Georgia's Mercer University. (They were mostly just checking out candidates.) He joked around with embeds, asking one to pick a type of wine, then pointing out a paisley dress that would flatter former Slatester Rebecca Kaplan. She disagreed; he accepted the judgment. If it wasn't jackets or boots, he didn't really give advice on clothing.

From there it was a slow march to the Southern Thymes diner, and the typical Perry event -- intro, short speech, endorsement from a hero veteran who supports him. (This time, local boy and Medal of Honor winner Mike Thornton, whose story Perry told to everyone he could.) Special feature: the Rick Perry malpropisms and/or zingers. Explaining the need for a conservative contrast: "We don't need a lighter version of Obama." On the enemies of freedom: "We will unleash all hell upon those who have crossed America."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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