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    Perry Surging in Republican US Presidential Race

    Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, South Carolina, August 20, 2011 (file photo)
    Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters at Tommy's Ham House in Greenville, South Carolina, August 20, 2011 (file photo)

    In U.S. presidential politics, Texas Governor Rick Perry is making a strong bid to take the lead in a crowded field of Republican candidates.  

    The latest Gallup poll shows Rick Perry vaulting into the lead for the Republican presidential nomination over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

    Perry led with 29 percent in the poll, followed by Romney at 17 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was third with 13 percent and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was in fourth place at 10 percent.

    Leading the pack

    Another survey by Public Policy Polling shows Perry with a 13-percentage point lead over the rest of the field.

    Perry’s surge comes after he visited several states that hold early events in next year’s process of nominating a candidate. A major theme of his campaign is the nation's weak economy.

    "One in six work-eligible Americans cannot find a fulltime job. That is not a recovery. That is an economic disaster,” said Perry.

    Among those swept up in the Perry campaign is this couple from South Carolina.

    “We read his bio this week online and found him a very interesting candidate, and we are looking for somebody with the charisma and we felt like he might be the man,” said this man.

    “He may be it,” said this woman.

    Practical business experience


    Mitt Romney led the Republican contenders in the polls for months and he continues to campaign on his background as a businessman.

    “We simply have to have an administration that has as its leader a person who understands how business works and how the decision we make from a tax and regulatory and trade standpoint affect the creation of jobs,” said Romney.

    Perry’s rise to the top of the Gallup poll is no surprise to American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman.

    “I think ultimately this is going to come down to a two-person race between Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney,” said Lichtman.

    Lichtman said the poll results suggest Perry appeals to both economic and social conservatives within the Republican Party.

    “The Republican primary electorate is very conservative and Perry is more conservative than Romney. Perry probably has a better campaign style and, as we know, Romney’s Mormon religion has been a problem for the Republican evangelical Protestant base, which is a very significant portion of the Republican primary electorate. So Romney has got a lot to worry about,” said Lichtman.

    Staking out middle ground

    But some of the other Republican contenders are trying to get out from under Perry’s shadow. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has positioned himself as a moderate in the race and has been critical of Perry’s skeptical comments about global warming and the theory of evolution.

    Huntsman spoke on ABC’s This Week program.

    “Right now this country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country. I am a center-right candidate and right now we have got people on the fringes.”

    About a dozen Republicans are running for their party’s presidential nomination, though Perry, Romney and Bachmann are getting most of the attention at the moment.

    Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has yet to decide on a presidential run, but is expected to announce her decision next month.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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