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Perry/Paul: What’s At Stake In Iowa?

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Texans will be watching two of their own as Iowa republicans cast the nation’s first ballots for a presidential nominee. Lake Jackson Congressman Ron Paul, often considered out-of-step with the GOP, is expected to finish near the top. But KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports Governor Rick Perry is just trying to survive.

At one time Perry was a contender to win Iowa, now he’s just hoping to finish strong enough to continue on. SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says if Perry doesn’t finish at least fourth in Iowa’s six person GOP race he has little chance of reviving his presidential campaign.

Jillson: He’ll be luck to finish fourth, more likely to finish fifth. If he does then he goes to New Hampshire which he says he’s not contesting. He’s going to finish fourth, fifth, maybe sixth there and that’s game over.

Jillson says Perry has a feel for Texas politics, but wasn’t ready for the national arena.

Jillson: He simply did not know the issues and so he ended up tripping himself up a number of times sometimes visibly like the ‘”oops” moment during one of the debates.

University of Texas government professor Jim Henson thinks Perry could gather steam again if Newt Gingrich falters in Iowa. Gingrich is polling first in socially conservative South Carolina which votes third after New Hampshire. Henson believes that if Gingrich loses traction Perry could regain momentum in South Carolina and become competitive.

Henson: If Gingrich implodes in Iowa and it hurts his standing in South Carolina that helps Perry. I think he has to win South Carolina.

While most political analysts believe Ron Paul’s views are too extreme for him to win the nomination Henson says a strong finish in Iowa guarantees a flood of Internet donations.

Henson: They’ll do a money bomb immediately and they’ll raise a bunch more operating money.

And that will guarantee Paul remains a factor in the contest after some of the other candidates drop out.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.