Perry Campaign Struggling to Gain Traction and Raise Funds

Rick PerryFormer Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stopped paying his 2016 presidential campaign’s staff in the key early primary state of South Carolina, amid flagging poling numbers and sluggish fundraising.

Spokesman Lucy Nashed said late Monday that “tough decisions have to be made in respect to both monetary and time-related resources.”

“Governor Perry remains committed to competing in the early states and will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Nashed said in a statement. “The Governor is also looking forward to his trips to South Carolina this Thursday and to Iowa next week.”

Perry has spent more time than any White House hopeful in Iowa, which opens presidential primary voting, and has frequently visited New Hampshire and South Carolina, sites of the next two primaries.

It wasn’t clear if the pay suspension would be permanent. It was first reported by National Journal.

Katon Dawson, Perry’s South Carolina state campaign chairman, didn’t return messages seeking comment Monday night. But some other Perry South Carolina staffers said they would continue to work as volunteers, at least for the time being, believing the former governor’s fortunes may improve.

Perry campaign officials in other states referred questions about salaries to headquarters in Austin, which declined to comment beyond Nashed’s statement.

“As far as I know, we still have a plan and we’re still on track,” said Sam Clovis, the campaign’s Iowa state chairman.

Meanwhile, a group of Opportunity and Freedom super PACs promoting Perry’s candidacy, which are in far healthier state financially, having raised nearly $17 million by mid-July are planning to compensate for the shrinking campaign.

Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PAC, said the group would step up “to aggressively support the governor in a number of different ways.”

“We’ve got plenty of money,” Barbour said. “That’s what I know. And we’re going to put that money to use in Iowa to make sure the governor is in the top three there. The super PAC is not going to let Rick Perry down.”

Barbour added, “He’s going to get one breakout performance at a debate and he’ll really jump up in the polls. Voters need to see him perform very well at a debate…This is a very fluid field, things will change a lot, and we will continue to be very patient.”

The super PACs are legally barred from coordinating with Perry’s official campaign. Barbour said he anticipated after the campaign’s financial filing last month that the super PACs would need to step up and do some of the responsibilities traditionally handled by campaigns, such as building a ground organization. He said they have begun building an extensive field program in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are critical to Perry’s strategy.

“We saw this was coming,” Barbour said. “We started working on our own plan. We knew we would have to go build a ground game.”

Perry spent 14 years at Texas governor, the longest tenure in state history, before leaving office in January.

He’s hoping to convince Republican primary voters that he’s humbler and better prepared than in 2012, when his first presidential bid opened to strong fundraising and a brief surge in the polls, but fizzled amid a series of public gaffes.

Perry now trains his attention on enough support in national polls to assure a spot on the main stage at the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library next month.

Perry aides said he hopes to continue raising money and is committed to a strong performance in the early contests next year. Perry is planning to campaign in South Carolina on Thursday and to visit Iowa next week.




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