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Shannen Coffin and Rich Lowry  argue that Romney would look desperate and inauthentic if he were to attack Perry now.  He would also open himself up to some devastating counterpunches.  All true, but Romney is in a tough situation (or as tough as it could be in August.)  I think Ross Douthat is wrong when he argues that Romney vs. Perry is setting itself up as an “Establishment” vs. a right-of -the-Republican-Party-center populist outsider race.  In tone and substance, it is Perry that better represents the centerline of the Republican Party and has shown popularity among the party’s right.  Romney is being positioned as the candidate running to the left-of-the-Republican-Party-center and that is not a place you want to be.  According to PPP, Perry is already the plurality leader and he shows significant second-choice appeal to both Romney voters and what remains of Bachmann’s support.  As Peter Lawler said in a below thread, Perry not only has the most support of anyone, but he is also the mean between the Bachmann-Romney extremes (both along the authenticity/competence axis and the ideological axis.)  I’m not sure what Romney can do about any of this, but waiting for the media and Bachmann to take Perry down doesn’t seem like much of a strategery - though nothing else does either.

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