Alec MacGillis

Senior Editor

Earlier today, I found myself chatting with a state senator from New Hampshire, Jack Barnes. He is a classic Granite State curmudgeon -- 80 years old, outspoken and conservative. But he is supporting the Massachusetts moderate, Mitt Romney. I asked him why he's not for, say, Rick Perry. Barnes didn't hesitate. "His stuff going on down there with illegal immigrant scholarships," he said. "That's absurd, horrible. I don't think he deserves even one shot at it based on that stuff. It's nuts.

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Thanks to all for the smart responses to my query yesterday asking why it is that Rick Perry's maladroit debate performances are being judged to be so much more devastating to his prospects than were George W. Bush's back in 1999. My colleague Noam Scheiber, who will be soon be gracing the Stump on a regular basis, offered another theory that elaborates on one of my suggestions, that Perry suffers from a class bias, or as I put it: "Bush and his loyalists shrugged off his shaky debates with the cockiness of the prep-school slacker shrugging off a bad grade.

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Even the most sober-minded political reporter is allowed the occasional frivolity, and with that license in mind I offer up this photo from my recent travels in Texas to report on the life and times of Rick Perry. This delightfully named municipality is just west of College Station, Perry's college stomping grounds. My peg -- because even frivolity needs a peg -- is that Perry may now have an opening with the Snooki vote, given that her nemesis Chris Christie has sided with Mitt Romney; and that the Snooki tax was up for official discussion today at the IRS. Hey, that's two pegs!

Now that the Night of the Roundtable is behind us, the primary campaign is moving into the phase when money and ads will matter more than Jon Huntsman's curious sense of humor or Michelle Bachmann's numerology.

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Shortly after the Republican debate in Orlando, when Rick Perry was being pummeled for his mangled answers on Pakistan, Mitt Romney's flip-flopping, and more, I happened to find myself talking to a Texas Democrat who has known Perry since his first days in the state legislature. I asked if she was surprised at how things had gone for Perry in the debates so far. Yes, she said. She was surprised he was doing as well as he was. Perry's lack of aptitude for the debate stage has been common knowledge for years in Texas.

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If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear it? And if Rick Perry stages a resurgence at the Dartmouth debate, will anybody see it? Missing from much of the hype over the Hoedown in Hanover is that it will almost certainly be seen by fewer people than the last few debates. It is airing on Bloomberg TV, which is in only 67 million homes in the U.S.

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Okay, maybe I'm missing something here. Sure, getting Chris Christie behind you is a bigger deal than, say, having Judd Gregg come out to say that he still likes you. But, really, is anyone that surprised that Christie is endorsing Mitt Romney? Did we think Christie was more of a Santorum guy? I mean, just hours after Christie said he wouldn't run, the key people pushing him to -- Home Depot's Ken Langone and hedge fund gazillionaire Paul Singer among them -- announced that they would be lining up with Romney.

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The magazine's current cover story on Rick Perry takes a close look at the cronyism and funny math involved in his two job creation funds, which have doled out more than $800 million in taxpayer money, including to many enterprises backed by his top campaign contributors, in return for the "creation" of jobs that prove hard to find on the ground.

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Normally, I would've jumped on the Romney campaign's announcement today that it had won the endorsement of Judd Gregg, the retired senator and son of a former New Hampshire governor. I mean, who would've thought that Gregg, a relatively moderate, slightly socially awkward, business-minded Republican who looks like he could be Romney's brother would have endorsed him? Shocker. "New Hampshire voters are looking for a candidate who will focus on the economy from day one," declared Gregg. "Mitt Romney is the only candidate with a record of results in both the private sector and as governor.

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Collectivism At Work

Sorry, E.J. Dionne, George Will was right -- Elizabeth Warren's a collectivist, and she's collecting a lot of it -- $3.15 million in the span of just six weeks, to be exact, as her campaign announced today. No word yet on what Scott Brown raised for the quarter; he pulled in $1.98 million from April through June and last reported $9.6 million on hand. But don't think Brown won't be able to match Warren dollar for dollar in what will surely be one of the most expensive Senate races ever.

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