Friday, June 24, 2011

The Perry Predicament

Love him or hate him, the entire Republican presidential primary may be on the verge of transformation with the entry of Governor Rick Perry.  There is non-stop speculation, rumor, and opinion on a Perry candidacy from folks all over the country.  It appears that Perry’s impeccable sense of timing is about to propel him into the race for the White House.  The word that immediately springs to mind? “Winning.”  And not in a Charlie-Sheen-sarcastic way.  He has never lost an election.  Perry is luckier than a Leprechaun with a four-leaf clover.  Or God is watching over him.   Either way, Rick Perry is one charmed politician.

Republicans who do not live in Texas view Perry as a conservative savior who can defeat President Obama.  It is possible that he could.  Rick Perry is a wildly successful politician.  And the absolute priority of the Republican Party has got to be the nomination of a winning candidate.  As a conservative in Texas who has watched Governor Perry for many years, it is almost amusing to hear the Democrats characterize Perry has a far-right conservative.  You see, the reason that some conservatives could not support Perry for reelection in 2010 was because he was not conservative enough.  Yes, that’s right.  After all, this is Texas.  And what bothers Texas conservatives is that Perry’s actions do not always match his rhetoric.  (I know, that is a laughable statement to make about a politician.)  Perry’s willingness and ability to promise one thing to one group and another to the next may be the reason why Perry would be the best presidential nominee.

Perry is an amazingly adept candidate.  There are moments, especially when he bemoans the Federal government's attempts to mess with Texas, that he is inspiring.  When it comes to campaigning, there is no one better.  He looks great on television and he’s charismatic in person.  He delivers a captivating speech.  And he has a knack for saying what his audience wants to hear.   Would he be able to get away with that on the national stage?  Well, our President has certainly done that.  Maybe Obama has met his match in Perry.

Rick Perry is not a liberal, by any means.  But the fact that he endorsed Rudy Giuliani, a pro-choice candidate, for President in ’08; the fact that he was a Democrat until 1989; and the fact that he once chaired Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign in Texas tells us that he is no hard-core conservative.  Perry’s support and signing of the margins tax on businesses in Texas, and his refusal to support a border fence, have also been a problem for conservatives.  Then there’s the Gardasil vaccine debacle.

When it comes to running for President, however, these things may be advantages.  He has the ability, almost Clintonesque, to finesse these issues.  Independents probably don’t care, and we need independents in order to win the election.  Perry’s pro-life credentials are solid, despite the Giuliani endorsement.  And this is huge:  Texas leads the country in job creation.  His policies are popular and resonate with the TEA party when it comes to states’ rights and opposition to intrusive federal regulations.  Those issues matter to swing voters.  He is definitely more conservative than Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.

So…Governor Rick Perry may be the right presidential candidate at the right time.  Perfect, he’s not, but neither is anyone else.  It is really not up to Texans, other than the fundraisers and consultants, to propel Perry through the primary.  Those of you in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, what do you think?  Perry for President?  For some of us here in Texas, this is a perplexing predicament, indeed.

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