GOP presidential field – looking Perry promising?
With polls showing President Barack Obama beating any current 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, some party leaders are casting around for additional contenders, especially those who are well-known and might appeal more to the party’s most conservative wing.
One name that has come up repeatedly is Texas Governor Rick Perry, a conservative Republican and rising star in the Tea Party movement who fueled speculation last year that he might run for the White House by going on a national tour to publicize his book “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” which takes aim at what he sees an intrusive and expansive federal government.
Perry has in the past emphatically said he will not run, but he more recently has seemed to be leaving the door slightly open by saying for now he is focused on Texas’ legislative session, which ends on May 30.
“I have said multiple times I’m not going to get distracted from my work at hand and I’m not going to get distracted today,” he said on Tuesday when he was asked if he would run.
He also is known for saying in 2009 that Texas might secede from the United States, a remark that Democrats criticized as unpatriotic, but which has endeared him to many conservatives, particularly in southern states where many Republicans are particularly hostile to Washington.
With former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour saying they will not join the 2012 Republican field, there is also appetite for a fiscal and social conservative from a southern state. The two current Republican front-runners, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, are former governors of Massachusetts and Minnesota.
“He sort of has the backing of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the whole conservative movement,” said Doug Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University in Texas, who said Perry has other strengths that would make him an attractive candidate.
He has never lost an election and is a skillful fund-raiser who could tap energy, chemical and mining industry money to pay for a campaign, and would benefit by being a fresh face even if he entered the Republican field relatively late.
“If you know you can get the money to run, if you’re Rick Perry, you can wait until July, August or even September to announce and be completely viable for Iowa,” he said, referring to Iowa’s February 6, 2012, caucuses to vote for a Republican nominee.
Perry, who succeeded fellow Republican former President George W. Bush as Texas governor in 2000 when Bush moved to the White House, is chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. He has been a constant critic of Obama and his agenda.
Earlier this month, Perry stayed away from ceremony welcoming Obama on a visit to Texas amidst intimations that the Democratic president was bringing politics into the way his administration authorizes aid to states facing natural disasters by granting less aid to Texas because it has been strongly Republican.
Limbaugh, the conservative talk radio host, spoke extensively about Perry on his radio show last week. He said Perry “has the potential to light this up” and that he has great hair.
California State Assemblyman Dan Logue and four other Republican members of California’s legislature have started a committee to draft Perry.
“If we can get Governor Rick Perry in Washington instead of Texas he will no longer recruit businesses from Ca. but he will recruit jobs back to America from China and India and put America, not just Texas, back to work,” their Draft Rick Perry 2012 website says.
Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan in Austin.
Picture credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Perry at 2011 Conservative Political Action); REUTERS/Sean Gardner (Perry at 2010 Republican Leadership Conference)