2012 Contender Series: Rick Perry
(Update: After coming in dead last in New Hampshire, Rick Perry withdrew from the Repblican Primary)
(Update: Perry officially announced his candidacy on Satuday, August 13th on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll)
Yes, Texas Governor Rick Perry is not actually a candidate for President in the 2012 race. But he probably will be due to popular demand. The current baker’s dozen of Republican mediocrity is not making anyone all that excited and the smart people like Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, and Chris Christie know that there will be no chance of defeating the current incumbent President, Barack Obama. They’re all seeing the writing on the wall, reading the tea leaves correctly, and looking just the right way into the crystal ball. This is probably the best time for Governor Perry to be competitive in a race of futility against the fourteen or so lackluster candidates already in the race. He is the ideal Tea Party candidate and he doesn’t really have anything to lose by running for the Republican nomination; well, except for the Presidency.
Polls now routinely include Perry as a potential candidate despite his not being in the campaign. Perry has said he is considering getting into the race and that seems to be enough for Republicans desperate for a champion they can get behind that isn’t too crazy or milquetoast. He’s the underdog. The great white hope. But a Perry candidacy has its own problems.
The ruggedly handsome Perry is the 47th Governor of the state of Texas. He’s also Chairman of the Republican governors Association. A former Democrat, Perry switched to the Republican party in 1989. He even campaigned for then Senator Al Gore during his presidential bid in 1988. However, Perry maintains a staunch platform of fiscal conservatism and tax reform; hallmarks of any Republican. In fact, Perry is on record objecting to the 16th Amendment of the Constitution regarding the personal income tax.
Probably the most conspicuous trait of Governor Perry is his unapologetically evangelical Christianity. He is not timid about mixing his religion and politics and he supports teaching ‘intelligent design’ in Texas schools. He recently claimed that he has heard a ‘calling from God’ to run for President. Perry is also a climate change denier although he does advocate an alternative energy strategy that includes multiple types of renewable energy systems.
Recently, Perry has come under fire from critics over his comments on the possibility of Texas secession from the United States; an irony for someone considering a run for President of an actual United States. Perry’s camp has insisted that he was merely engaging in hyperbole but it did inflame sentiment in some factions, particularly the Tea Party. Ron Paul is another candidate (and Texan) on record agreeing with the idea in principle.
Is Perry a viable candidate? Certainly. Even this late in the race he would become a top tier candidate. Does he have issues? Again, certainly. It’s possible Americans have ‘Texas fatigue’ or perhaps ‘Bush fatigue’. People may be weary of boisterous politicians from Texas and Perry certainly has George W. Bush ties. The religious fanaticism may be a turn-off as well. It’s unclear how the Republican machine would view his entry into the race since the establishment is already clearly behind Romney. But Perry is likely to be a darling to the Tea Party and that is a factor that the establishment can no longer ignore.
Can he beat President Obama? According to recent polls he fares no better than any other GOP candidate save Mitt Romney. Perry comes in at 40% to Obama’s 53%, nearly identical to the numbers for Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul. Mitt Romney comes in better at 47% to Obama’s 49%. It’s not clear that Perry can break out of the flavour of the month mold amidst an already mediocre Republican field. But he stands a better chance than most.
- Rick Perry 2012? Texas Governor ‘Comfortable’ With Idea Of Presidential Run (huffingtonpost.com)
- Stephen Colbert Really Wants Rick Perry to Run for President [Video] (gawker.com)
- Rick Perry, a step up for the GOP? (Washington Post)
- For Rick Perry, An Inconvenient Truth (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rick Perry began career as a Texas Democrat (Star-Telegram)
- Rick Perry’s Bush Problem (New York Times)