2012 Update: Rick Perry Jumps In

Today, Texas governor Rick Perry is poised to jump into the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for president.  Even before he jumped in the race, he surpassed Mitt Romney as the most likely Republican nominee on Intrade.com (which has proven slightly more reliable in the past than public polls).  Why is Rick Perry so popular in the Republican party?  Why do liberals think he can’t win?

The Positive

First, why do Republicans and conservatives like him?  He has several things going for him:

  • He’s not Mitt Romney.  Republicans have been looking for a solid alternative to Romney for months, and have been disappointed by Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, etc.  Rick Perry seems to be their main-stream alternative.
  • He’s a proven fundraiser.  In one of the largest states in the union, he’s raised huge amounts of money for state-wide races.  Republicans are confident that he can raise money.  He raised $102 million for his three campaigns for governor, including $39 million for his 2010 race.
  • He’s a successful governor of a large state.  Texas gained four congressional seats in the 2010 census, which means that the state’s population has been booming for the last 10 years.  Rick Perry has presided over that growth.  Republicans love to say that Texas produced 70 percent of new jobs in 2008, and has 150,000 people moving to Texas every year.
  • He’s a job creator.  It seems like “jobs, jobs, jobs” will be the theme of the 2012 election, and the Rick Perry-run Texas has been churning them out like mad.  32,000 jobs in June, more than any other state.  Politico says that he’s winning that messaging game.
  • He’s conservative.  Fiscally, socially, religiously, culturally.
  • He’s a former Democrat.  Some Republicans think that, because he was once a Democrat, he can appeal to both sides, and independents.  Has there ever been another Republican president who was formerly a Democrat?

The Negative

Still, even though Republicans like him (or maybe because Republicans like him), his opponents are finding plenty of things to dislike about him:

  • He’s run up quite a bit of debt in Texas.  While pundits on the right are touting his job-creating ways in Texas, pundits on the left say that he’s not the great leader that the right says.  Facing a budget deficit in 2011 of $27 billion, he slashed state spending, and brought the deficit to between $13 billion and $25 billion (depending on who you believe).  That’s 13% of their state budget!
  • He’s too conservative.  Have you heard that he’s anti-choice and ant-gay marriage?  Also, he colludes with radical right-wing groups.
  • He’s a former Democrat.  This should make him unpalatable to true Republicans.  He even served as the chairman of the Gore campaign in Texas in 1988.
  • He has too long a record to pick apart.  He’s been the longest-serving governor of Texas, and before that he served as Lieutenant Governor, Agriculture Secretary, and a member of the state House of Representatives, so he has a long record.  This could be viewed as a positive by Republicans (that he’s experienced), or negative by Democrats (because there’s so much to pick apart and dissect).
  • He’s a secessionist.  He once argued that Texas has the right to secede from the union.
  • He’s the next George Bush.  This has been touted as the biggest negative for Rick Perry.  He’s a Texas governor that’s conservative, sounds like George W. Bush, and even kinda looks like George W. Bush.  The argument, even from Republicans, is that defeating Rick Perry would be a lay-up for President Obama.  People have even said that he sounds like someone doing a Saturday Night Live impersonation of George W. Bush.
  • He’s a big-government politician.  This charge is most-often leveled at Perry by conservatives.  Some believe that he’s a closet spender.  Total Texas debt has doubled under his leadership.  If elected, would the U.S. debt also double?

The Bottom Line

Rick Perry will enter the presidential race as a front runner, and will take a lot of pounding, both from the right and from the left.  The question yet to be answered is, can he take it?  Or will he fizzle out, like Tim Pawlenty or Gary Johnson?

Questions: What positives or negatives about Rick Perry have I missed?

Further Sources:
Texas’ Perry to enter presidential race with vulnerabilities” – Miami Herald
Texas Governor Upends GOP Race” – Wall Street Journal
Watch Perry’s CPAC speech from earlier this year:

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Broc-Middleton/1320338877 Broc Middleton

    Well, I can tell from the way you have written his pro’s vs.
    “con” list that you really like Perry as a candidate, with good
    reason.  Rick Perry seems to project all
    the thing which I think you find desirable in a candidate. However, as you go
    down his “con” list you undercut almost each one as not legitimate in
    that very same bullet point.


    Debt of Texas – yes he “slashed” spending in
    Texas to reduce his deficit down to 13% but what did “slash” to get that
    savings in the budget?  Education, Public
    colleges, Food assistance programs for the poor?  Congrats Perry can cut programs that benefit
    the most IN NEED from his state. 

    You say he is too conservative – then you
    frame the bullet by having it read like rumor you would see in the local
    grocery store tabloid. 

    His long record – If that was a negative it
    didn’t sound like it, you rolled out his resume like a campaign supporter going
    door to door.

    The Next George W. Bush – Let’s hope no one is
    the next George W. Bush, one was enough

     I have almost always found you to be objective and logical, but
    this “con” list looks like something Fox News would drum up in an attempt to
    look “fair and balanced”.  If my critique
    was off or I was simply reading into subtext that wasn’t there, let me know. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Broc, the two biggest things that I think will count against him is the way that he cut the deficit in Texas, and that he can be spun as the next George W. Bush. Those are the negatives that I think are legitimate (one from an executive standpoint, and one from a political/image standpoint). The other things on my “con” list (that he’s conservative, his record, that he’s a secessionist), I don’t think that those “negatives” will stick.

      It makes sense that among the things on my list of “cons,” some will seem more legitimate than others, because some are more legitimate than others. I think that the biggest thing that Perry will have to answer for in the campaign is what you talked about in your first point–how he cut the budget deficit in Texas.

      Similarly, some of the things on my “pros” list are more legitimate than others. As a conservative, I think that the two largest “pros” for him are his successful executive experience, and the fact that he’s created jobs, because I think those will be THE biggest issues of the 2012 campaign. It helps that he’s the anti-Romney (in some people’s minds) and that he can raise money, but those are lesser things, I think.

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        I can see how Rick Perry has some very good traits for a Republican Presidential candidate, but outside of job creation, where do you see his crossover appeal to independent and dissatisfied democrats? Could Rick Perry win a GENERAL election?

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          1. I think that his handling of the economy will be paramount to winning independents, especially if the 2012 election continues to be about the economy and jobs.
          2. I think dissatisfied Democrats/liberals won’t vote for any Republican. But they WILL stay home on election day.
          3. Obama needs to make the election about something OTHER than the economy and jobs. If the election is about social issues, then he might have a chance. Or, alternatively, if he can successfully make the election another referendum on George W. Bush, he will probably also come out on top (which is why I think that’s one of Perry’s greatest weaknesses).

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            1. I do not know if his stance on the economy alone will have enough pull on INP voters given how much his stance on other issues might push them away.  However, the direction of our economy 1 year from now will impact that number greatly. 
            2.  I agree a lack of democrat turn out will hurt Obama if he is not able to rally the base between now and election time
            3. From what I understand of Rick Perry, the comparisons between him and George W. Bush don’t really go any deeper than the superficial.  Yes they are both Governors from Texas but do they have much in common after that? From what I understand the people in George W. Bush’s camp don’t even like Rick Perry and Perry doesn’t like Bush.  I not looking to campaign for Perry but I do not want to unfairly label him Bush part II either.  

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            1. I agree with you that the direction of the economy in the next year will play a large role in whether or not the president is re-elected.

            2. Agreed.

            3. I think that the Obama campaign will try to draw clear lines between Perry political positions, and Bush political positions. Even if the two guys don’t like each other, they can be made to look similar.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            A hurdle for Rick Perry could be his job record as well, I just read a good CNN Op-ed http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/15/frum.perry.economy/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

            Check it out

          • Dan S.

            I was about to reply with this very same CNN link, but you beat me to it.

            Perry appeals to me in that he comes off as a “rational” GOP candidate.  Romney, up until now, had been the one I would have chosen as being the most “sensible” of the lot, and that scared me considering his “corporations are people” sound byte last week among other things.  Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich et al are just frightening to me.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Broc, that was an interesting article. These are the things that Perry will have to deal with in the campaign.

            One thing I thought of, though. The question came into my mind as I was reading the article… “Why were a majority of the jobs created in Texas low-wage jobs?” The accusation seems to be… “Yeah, Texas is creating jobs, but they’re not REAL jobs” (as evidenced by Frum’s quoted question, “Must Americans choose only between the two ugly options: no jobs vs. low wages?”).

            But the question in my mind is, “How many low-wage jobs does there need to be?” There has to be some. Another question, “What is the percentage of low-wage jobs that is normal?” Another question, “Are low-wage jobs the first jobs to be lost in a recession?” If the answer to that question is “Yes,” then one would expect that low-wage jobs would be the first jobs to recover. If that’s the case, then Texas would be one of the states in recovery, while other states are not.

            I don’t know. I haven’t dug deeply into the employment numbers… maybe I should do that for a post (wouldn’t that be a post that would solve insomnia?).

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Eventidently I am a poli-geek, so I would be total into that break down.  Rick Perry is everywhere on media coverage…new kid on the block has overshadowed Bachmann’s Iowa win.