Jeff Smith: A Fresh Start for Rick Perry?

Perry just needs to not mess up for eight weeks. I can’t imagine the numbers working on an optional 20 percent tax rate but I’m no economist. It’s not that important that the numbers work; what’s important is that he sound credible and serious defending it.

If he can do that and not get distracted by other issues, Cain will implode. Bachmann will quit shortly after Iowa and file for reelection. Gingrich will go back to selling books and speaking for $25K a pop or whatever he gets. Santorum will go back to annoying people.

And without all those candidates who’ve just been renting five to 20 percent of the voters, they’ll be up for grabs, and if anything is clear after the last five years, they aren’t really feeling Mitt Romney. So I think those voters break 2:1 or 3:1 for Perry.

Whether that’s enough will depend on his performance, and where Paul’s five to 10 percent end up. (Huntsman’s one to two percent splits between Romney and Obama – not enough to have an impact.)

By the way, I think Huckabee could swoop in tomorrow and scoop up enough of those “rented” voters to take the nomination.

(Cross-posted, with author’s permission, from Politico’s Arena)

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