Polls (and Iowa voters) say 'no,' but Perry says 'go'

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 7 at 9:56 AM

DALLAS - Governor Rick Perry is pressing on with his presidential campaign after his fifth-place finish in Iowa, but polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina Friday show his support in those states has been ironed flat.

Perry's skipping New Hampshire, where a Suffolk University poll put him at one percent, to campaign aggressively in South Carolina.

But Rasmussen and CNN polls of South Carolina voters put his support at five percent, with Mitt Romney leading and Rick Santorum surging.

Although the polls suggest futility, the Perry campaign says there is still time for voter choices to shift.

As front runner Mitt Romney moved in to campaign in South Carolina, even ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, many  voters, like Robbie Hedstrom of Charleston, aren't talking about Governor Perry after Iowa.

"I was glad to see Romney won, but I was really surprised to see Santorum really come out of no where in the last 48 to 72 hours and finish second," Hedstrom said.

With Santorum still rising and Newt Gingrich still competitive, Perry must vie with them for the anti-Romney vote and has said he will.

"We're going to give the people of South Carolina, New Hampshire, America a choice in this election," Perry said.

But with fresh South Carolina polls showing voters choosing others, and not Perry, why does he bother?

Perry claims he's the real conservative alternative, with more organization and money than the others.

Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune covered Perry as he campaigned before the Iowa caucuses.

"I think after having a rough night in Iowa, Rick Perry woke up the next morning re-evaluated and thought, 'I've got as good of a chance in South Carolina as any of these other guys do, I might as well stick it out.'"

Perry started a TV ad Friday in South Carolina centering on his personal background and military experience.

But it's a rerun from a commercial he used in Iowa.

Repeating an ad appears acceptable, but repeating what some say is a mistake former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty made is not - dropping out too early.

Ramshaw said, "The question is, if Rick Perry jumps out of the race now, thinking, 'I don't have a shot after finishing fifth in Iowa,' you know, historically other candidates have performed poorly and have gone on to be the Republican nominee," Ramshaw said. "If he gets out now, if he doesn't stick it out through South Carolina, will he really regret it?"

Perry is in two debates Saturday night and Sunday morning in New Hampshire, and starts in South Carolina Sunday afternoon with 18 events set through Thursday.

And in a sign of either confidence or bluster, Perry turned in paperwork Friday to get on the ballots in Arizona, Illinois, Ohio, Vermont and Washington D.C.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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