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Galston to Romney: Define Yourself Against Perry

3:01 PM, Aug 31, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Preparing to face off more directly against Rick Perry, Mitt Romney's campaign seems to be trying to determine its best strategy. At the New Republic, William Galston offers Romney some unsolicited advice about how to fight back against the apparent Perry juggernaut: 

Perry’s entrance into the race has highlighted your key weakness: People still don’t know who you are and what you stand for. They’re yearning for clear, strong, unapologetic leadership, but they don’t know where your red lines are. And efforts to placate opponents—such as fudging your long-held views on climate change—will only make matters worse.

But Perry’s emergence also gives you a unique opportunity to define yourself—against him. If you take it, you have a fighting chance of prevailing. If you duck it, you’ll lose, just as Tim Pawlenty did when he booted away his chance to take you on.

How should you do it? Well, to the extent that the Republican nominating contest is a rational process, it’s a search for a candidate with three characteristics. The nominee must be competent to serve as president, reliably conservative, and electable. You’re never going to be able to make your party believe that the longest-serving governor in Texas history isn’t fit to serve as chief executive. And despite some facts to the contrary, it won’t be any easier to challenge Perry’s conservative credentials. That narrows it down to one option: You must persuade the decisive portion of your party that Rick Perry is too extreme to be elected president.

Here’s your theme: Rick Perry wants to repeal the 20th century. I don’t. And neither do the American people.

Read the whole thing here.

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