WASHINGTON — His campaign struggling, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is beefing up his campaign staff with veterans of presidential elections.
Campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said the additions have been planned for weeks and represent "a natural progression as we head towards election days" in the early states.
Perry's top strategist, David Carney, will continue in that role, Sullivan said. But veteran pollster and campaign hand Tony Fabrizio will also take on a senior strategic role, "not to replace Carney, but work with him," a Republican familiar with the move said, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement.
Additional staff will focus on campaign ads, Sullivan said. "It is primarily boosting our media team with folks who've been involved in multiple presidential campaigns in the past," Sullivan said. "The focus will be on the media side."
But Perry's new advisers — including Fabrizio, former Bob Dole strategist Nelson Warfield, and media and polling strategist Curt Anderson — will have just two months until the first caucuses and primaries to make Perry competitive with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Perry's chief rival.
So far, Perry has struggled through a series of debates and had trouble explaining his position on immigration. He's dropped from the top of national polls. Still, Perry hasn't run any TV ads yet, but he has $15 million banked to buy them.
The staff changes are also a clear indication that Perry's team will focus on winning Florida's primary: Fabrizio, Anderson and Warfield worked for Florida Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 election campaign. Scott hasn't endorsed a presidential hopeful, but spoke positively about Perry last month when the candidates gathered for a test vote in Orlando.
Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this report.