On Monday, New Hamsphire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is expected to set the date of the state's presidential primary for Jan. 10. Friday was the last day for candidates to file, and among the last to do so was the Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry.
WBUR's Fred Thys was following Perry and joined WBUR's Sharon Brody to talk about how Perry and front-runner Mitt Romney are doing in New Hampshire.
Sharon Brody: Perry has been losing ground in the polls in New Hampshire. Did he say how he would try to regain ground with New Hampshire voters?
Fred Thys: He spoke to reporters after filing his papers at the New Hampshire State House in Concord. He started out by acknowledging that he's done badly in broadcast debates since he first jumped into the race this summer.
There's going to be a lot of debates. I mean, shoot, I may get to be a good debates. Shoot, I may get to be a good debater before this is all over with. (laughter) So we haven't made any decisions about what we're going to do, but getting the message out, obviously, we had a good fund-raising period, so we're going to be going directly to the people with our message.
Already, Perry is going after Romney. In previous campaigns, he's managed to win by spending a lot of money on negative ads against his opponents. It's a strategy that's always worked for him. He's begun to use it in Iowa, and he was indicating that with his money, he's going to to do the same here, attack Romney.
Perry was not the only candidate campaigning in New Hampshire. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was also greeting voters. I understand he talked about the Occupy protests going on around the country. What did he say?
Romney was at a town hall meeting in Manchester. About 120 people, largely undecided voters who had been invited, turned out, and Romney blamed the fact that there are protests on President Obama.
Well I know.... a number of things I know. One is if we had 6 percent unemployment instead of 9percent unemployment, this wouldn't be going on. So if we had had a president who understood what it took to reboot the American economy and get us back to work we wouldn't have this problem, or we wouldn't have people protesting, because they'd be working, and so for the president to somehow suggest yeah, you guys, we're with you, it's like wait a second, Mr. President, they're protesting in part because of your failure.
Do you see any striking differences in the way these two candidates are campaigning in New Hampshire?
The most striking difference is that Perry is breezy and glib. He seems to be struggling to find his footing. Romney, on the other hand, is substantive. He's focused on the economy and on why he would be the best candidate to take on Obama. He's clearly been in front of a lot of New Hampshire voters over the last few years, and he's gotten very good at answering questions on policy issues from the public.
The question is how Romney will respond if Perry follows his usual m.o. and goes on the air with attack ads. Romney has the money to come back with his own ads but, his campaign has also tried to make sure that people in New Hampshire know Romney so that if he's attacked there, people might be able to make up their up their own minds about him based on what they know rather than what they're being told in Perry television ads.
This program aired on October 29, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.