Here's the message I think Rick Perry should deliver -- Immediately, and at every opportunity, in one form or another. It would take around 3 minutes to deliver, but he should have shorter versions memorized (and I mean memorized with complete reliability -- so no long pauses, let alone "oopses") and well-practiced for effective delivery. Different venues/formats and occasions would fit different length versions -- debates, interviews, speeches, YouTube, email/press releases/website, etc.
I should note that I've seen at least one excellent "total package" argument diary here on RS -- at least one was more thorough than mine, although a shorter message is necessary for verbal communication -- but I don't recall who wrote it/them so I was unable to reference them and possibly refine the below.
So here it is, my stab at The Optimal Message from Rick Perry:
What do we need in a nominee and in a president?
[Use your fingers to tick them off to reinforce the perception that you can remember a list of points]
- Effective executive experience, particularly at creating jobs
- Consistent social conservatism
- Consistent economic and fiscal conservatism
- Strength on national security
- [and a] Track record of winning elections.
I have an effective record as governor. An executive – a governor or a president -- needs different skills than a legislator like Senator Santorum or Congressman Paul or even Speaker Gingrich. An executive makes executive decisions. An executive chooses good people and manages them and ensures that government does what it should, does it efficiently, and doesn’t do what it shouldn’t do. The people of Texas have rewarded me for governing well by re-electing me twice, and as governor I’ve enabled the creation of jobs – 48% of all the jobs created in the nation in the last couple of years have been created in Texas [or whatever the figure is that Perry has been using*].
I have a strong record as an economic and fiscal conservative. [Fill in details of own record, and make points knocking Santorum (e.g., earmarks; advocacy of steel tariffs) and Gingrich (e.g., Freddie Mac).]
I am a long-time, consistent social conservative, not someone who claimed with conviction to hold liberal positions on social issues when it was politically convenient, then flipped when conservatism was politically convenient, as Mitt Romney has done with abortion, gun control, gays serving openly in the military, and other social issues. On these important issues of core values, life, and freedom, we can’t afford to elect someone who will take whatever position serves him politically at the moment. And we also need a nominee and a president has lived our values and sets a good example, and that, frankly, includes being faithful to one’s spouse as vowed before God.
You can count on me to ensure that America is strong and our national security safeguarded. We have one candidate, Ron Paul, with a completely naive view of the world. I know, as Ronald Reagan showed, that peace comes through strength. I was proud to serve in our military, and I'll make sure our military is capable and as Commander in Chief I'll make sure our enemies don't underestimate our ability and our will to protect ourselves, our friends, and our national interests.
And our nominee should have a track record of winning elections. The last time Rick Santorum ran he lost his state by 18 points! And it was a tough year, but that was an exceptionally huge margin. Mitt Romney has a track record of mostly losing. I’ve won every single election. Sometimes I’ve started from behind, as I am now, but I’ve managed to win every time. And I know I stumbled a couple of times in debates when I first jumped in, but as you’ve seen since, I’m prepared now and ready to debate Obama and make it clear to the American people that I’ll lead the nation in a much better direction. And I assure you: I will beat Barack Obama.
With every other candidate, frankly, something we need is missing. I'm the only "total package", if you will. I will deliver ALL of what we need in a nominee and a president, and I ask for your vote.
* Note: That % of the nation’s jobs created is an analytically unsound number, but probably very few people would realize or learn that it is invalid. I oppose misleading votes on an ethical basis, but I’m including that talking point above just to show what would be effective, and apparently he has no problem using that talking point, although it’s possible he’s not sufficiently analytically-inclined to get that it’s a bogus metric, since it includes states that lost net jobs (meaning if we applied that metric to all states that grew net jobs, it would sum to much more than 100%).