Republicans see their choice in 2012 as between playing it safe -- Mitt Romney -- and going big -- Rick Perry, Politico's Jonathan Martin and Dan Hirschhorn report. Perry is casting Romney as too much like Obama. Romney's pitch is that Perry's too extreme -- that his position on Social Security, for example, could mean Republicans are "obliterated as a party," he said this month. Where Republicans are worry they could be obliterated is the suburbs.

But as Politico's Ben Smith reported earlier this month, in the 2010 elections, Perry was reelected Texas governor by a smaller margin than the rest of the Republican ticket. And his margin of victory was much smaller than George W. Bush's was in 1998. There could be a couple reasons for that: Democrats put up a particularly good candidate that year, Smith writes, and the demographics of the suburbs are trending more blue. But that demographic shift is happening everywhere, as Republican strategist Mike Murphy told The Washington Post's Aaron Blake. "It is hard to see how a base-oriented Texas governor is going to be what swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colorado are really looking for -- especially in a time where demographics are moving in a Democratic direction and moderate/independent white voters are so key to a winning GOP coalition," Murphy said.
 
It's not just Social Security-as-a-Ponzi-scheme that puts Perry somewhat out of step with the suburbs. The Daily Beast's Jill Lawrence reports that in Philadelphia's suburbs, for example, 52 percent support gay marriage -- the highest level of support in the state, far above the 35 percent who approve of it in the city itself. Perry supports amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.
 
But some Republicans think the economy is so bad they can afford to take a risk on Perry and his strong jobs record in Texas. Colorado state House Speaker Frank McNulty told Martin and Hirschhorn, "As long as the Republican nominee is able to stick to the message of being an advocate for job creation, folks in Jefferson and Arapahoe" -- key counties in the suburbs of Denver -- "are going to see that and appreciate that."