Perry bets Iowa fortunes on robust ground game
December 31st, 2011
02:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Perry bets Iowa fortunes on robust ground game

Boone, Iowa (CNN) - Even as they grapple with mediocre poll numbers, a gaffe-prone candidate and internal staff feuding, Rick Perry's advisers are confident that a top-three caucus finish is within reach on Tuesday.

The reason? Organization.

Aside from Iowa frontrunners Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Perry is thought to be the only Republican candidate here with the kind of sophisticated ground game to pull off a much-needed comeback.

And with public and internal polling from various campaigns showing the fight for third place to be a fluid one between Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Perry, a robust organization can mean the difference between a ticket home and a ticket to New Hampshire.

There are 1,774 Republican caucus precincts around the state, 900 of which are combined and held at the same location.

As of Friday, the Texas governor had signed up 1,500 precinct leaders in Iowa, a source inside the Perry campaign told CNN.

The source requested anonymity because staffers are not authorized to reveal the information.

The Perry camp also has 470 out-of-state volunteers descending on Iowa this weekend (including Perry's own family, which flew in on Friday).

The source said that by caucus night, "we will easily have over 2,000 Perry volunteers" fanning out across the state knocking on doors and speaking for Perry at their voting sites.

That means roughly 95% of caucus locations will hear from a representative from the Perry campaign on Tuesday night, the source added.

Campaigns in Iowa do not typically reveal their precinct leader figures, mainly to keep caucus night expectations in check.

But those leaders - regular men and women who sign up with a campaign to speak for their preferred candidate at their local precincts - play a crucial role on caucus night.

"The best example of organization on caucus night is who the candidates have as their surrogate speaker in their precincts," said Iowa Republican Party chairman Matthew Strawn. "When you have a third of the electorate persuadable to change, the people they have standing up in each precinct for their candidate becomes real important."

The Romney campaign will not share its number of precinct captains, and the Paul campaign has closely guarded the details of its grassroots operation.

"We don't share any of that information," Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

Santorum's late-blooming campaign, which is hoping for a more organic turnout based on the candidate's appeal to social conservatives and evangelicals, was more forthcoming.

"We have over 1,000 precinct captains," Santorum campaign manager Mike Biundo told CNN earlier this week, a number that could spike in the wake of his late surge in the polls.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Rick Perry
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. lgny

    18 months before each presidential date there should be a lottery to determine the ones that go first in the primaries/caucuses. Iowa and NH do not deserve all this attention and influence.

    December 31, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Bill, NY

    Why is he still here!?!? With what Mr. Perry has shown to his republican market leads to the conclusion that Al Sharpton would have a better chance of winning the republican nomonation.

    December 31, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Indy

    It will be Ron Paul as the winner then,Mitts,Newt,Santorum,Perry,Bachmann

    December 31, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Terry Gloege

    If there are enough Iowans stupid enough to believe this guy I think the EPA better start checking the drinking water.

    December 31, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. K3Citizen

    I have a better chance of winning than Perry.

    December 31, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. pn

    Go Perry! We need a D+ student to lead us out of this mess!

    December 31, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Falling off in Iowa

    Because OWS protestors and these out-of-state paid thugs trying to influence' people outside of the caucuses, I feel I have to drive my 76-yo mother right up to the door for her own safety. The school she will caucus at is 3 blocks from her house, and for 40-some years she has walked, but not this year. We need to stop the craziness.

    Unfortunately strong-arming seems to be the way to get the vote these days.

    December 31, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Shannon

    So the whiners on the right can't win by playing by the rules, so they sue to get their own way. The party of family values, the party of personal responsibility, what a joke you people are.

    December 31, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. joe ptak

    OBAMA needs to go...the fater the better!!! GO PERRY GO!

    December 31, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Perry expects to come in third ? And this is going to acheive what exactly ?

    December 31, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. PJ

    Perry is honest! Romney is not. Perry is driven by principal. Bishop Romney is driven to be the first Mornon President. Just think about it. Where is the money coming from. Where are the volunteers coming from – UTAH

    December 31, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Colt Smith

    Rick Perry has the momentum on the ground!!!! Like it or not liberals, America will be the land of the free again!!!!!

    December 31, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. one voice

    I would love to debate Rick Perry. one voice 2012

    December 31, 2011 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. GOP = Greed Over People

    Nate is now predicting Romney to win Iowa, thanks for playing little Ricky!

    December 31, 2011 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |

    Texas has really got to be embarrassed at this point. Before this campaign, most of the people who knew how inept this man is resided in Texas, it must have been a local embarrassment. But now on the world stage comes freaky Ricky from the lone star state, falling off his horse and gettin his spurs caught in his mouth. Soon Texas, this will all be over and you can hopefully get rid of your mistake

    December 31, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. willie floyd

    His supporters must not expect intelligence to be a necessity for a presidential candidate.

    December 31, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. A former republican

    Perry is just another delusional Texas politician. He is a loser!

    December 31, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Palin: Like Coulter ... Minus the Manparts

    Ground game? As in crashing and burning to the ground?

    December 31, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  19. loathstheright

    Cripes, he has shown the world that he is not qualified and just not that smart either and should just go home.

    December 31, 2011 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. skyking

    If Iowans like boxes of rocks they'll love goodhair perry. He's dumber than a box of rocks. This Texan is sick and tired of his antics. I hope you'll send his Aggie ass packing and perhaps he'll come back to Texas and attempt to earn a little bit of the thousands of dollars we're spending for his 'governance.' Rick Perry is NOT ready to become president of the U.S.

    December 31, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. enough of the wicked "O"

    obama signs away Americans Freedoms, time for rebellion against the Faciat and Marxist DC Elites, Start the movement to rebellion today.

    December 31, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  22. Dee

    Oh my, what a dumb as dirt delusional man.

    December 31, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Squigman

    It's not going to happen. Give it a rest, and make way for Texas.

    December 31, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. tcaros

    Perry is like the scarcrow in Alice in Wonderland.

    December 31, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. Thomas

    This guy is such a fraud , has anybody asked Perry about the money he took from Enron ?

    Somebody should !

    December 31, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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