Saturday, August 13, 2011

GOP Candidate Breakdown #7: Rick Perry

On August 13th, ahead of the Ames Straw Poll and after months of speculation, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his bid to run for President of the United States.

"That's why with the support of my family and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today my candidacy for president of the United States."

I'm Rick Perry and I have a finger.

Like many of the candidates that have declared in the past, the idea didn't come from the candidate him or herself, but rather came from the speculation as to who was going to run and not run.  It didn't matter that Rick Perry himself said that he had no interest in running for president.

But then the current field of candidates came around.  I can't help but think that he's running not because there are good enough candidates in the field but for other ulterior motives.  Romney's a good choice for the nomination, however, he is... well, he's a Mormon.  And while Fred Karger has campaigned on the Anti-Romney concept, he's not a feasible alternative.

With Perry, we have a man that doesn't care about the separation of Church and Statewho has a good records on creating minimum wage jobs at Wal-Mart and Carl's Jr. and shamelessly flirted with the idea that Texas was permitted to leave the Union whenever it felt that it was prudent to do.

What more could the Republican Party or the Tea Party want?

While I was planning on writing a profile breakdown for Perry well before he announced his candidacy, the announcement today has forced my hand.

Look at this picture and tell me that he's not saying "Hee-yuck" to himself.

Age: 61.  A pretty healthy guy, in regards to his physical health.  Mental health issues have not been released or discussed at length and they should.

Hometown:  He's the first candidate that I've profiled that represents the same state that he was born in:  Texas.  I guess that's one difference between him and George W. Bush (but one of the few differences).

Place in the Republican Party:  Conservatives have a hard-on for Southern politicians.  He's a good-looking guy and doesn't make up words like W. Bush, but is a little gaffe-prone.  For further proof, here's his report card from Politifact: it's a little worse than his college transcripts.

Perry appeals to those Republicans and conservatives that think a) no one remembers George W. Bush and/or b) actually miss George W. Bush.  He's shown to be a fiscal conservative, but if he gets the nomination, the argument may very well become his social conservatism.  

He's also considered a Washington Outsider (like Obama campaigned on, but this may also describe Romney, Huntsman and Palin.)  Why this is considered a good thing is beyond me.  Obama ran on that platform and it's shown to be extremely difficult trying to become part of the beast that you are trying to reform.


Nationally, Perry enters the race consistently second, behind Romney.  It's going to be interesting to see the dynamic but Romney is really just one "He's not really a Christian" remark away from being shoved out of the race.  Romney also made the gaffe that 'corporations are people too', and while legally this is true, it's hard to sympathize with "people" that have teams of lawyers to get them out of paying taxes.  Are we all supposed to have lawyers like that?

It's also interesting to note that, as of this writing, polls show that Obama is vulnerable to nearly any generic GOP candidate that he may run against.  However, when a specific person is named, he tends to do better.  With Perry, such is the case, consistently beating him by double digits.  

Perry demonstrates his chances again Obama, pictured here.

Iowa:  Perry doesn't appear in enough polls to create a sufficient average.  However, Perry does appear in one where he places third.  What's significant about that polling is that it creates for Michele Bachmann a significant problem.  He pulls her supporters away.  In the polling where he doesn't appear, she can get support as much as 30%.  When Perry appears, she's down to 22%.  Clearly, he's going to take the Evangelical Christian vote away from her and that just leaves her with the Crazies.

New Hampshire:  Perry polls 6th here.  You might say that it's because it's only until today that he's established a campaign.  To that I say included in this same poll would be Palin and Giulinani, a figure who is sometimes mentioned, but by no means is seriously floated as a contender for the nomination.  Perry ranks behind them.  Maybe as time wears on (and he's had a chance to show his face in NH), he'll gain more support, but assuming that Perry gets as far as the NH primary, it'll be surprising if he takes it.  After all, Bush the Second did not.

South Carolina:  No polls include Perry.

Nevada: There's not a strong average of the poll numbers in the Silver State, however, he does make a better showing in a single poll than the more established candidates.  One prediction I'm willing to float at present:  now that Perry is in the race it'll make the Nevada Caucus a little more irrelevant than it was before.  That's not to say that this particular caucus has done anything to sway the race one way or another (Romney won back in 2008 to no avail) but if Romney cannot establish moment in either Iowa or NH, any winning in NV would prove to be fruitless in the long haul.

Ricky Perry's political experience is completely isolated to the Texan stage.  He doesn't have experience in the national arena (a point that may be considered an advantage, after all not being in DC or being familiar with it is a "good" thing).  He's already started to make trails for the campaigning that he'll have to do in four states but he's going to have to play catch up with any number of candidates.  

There's going to be an initial novelty at his entrance to the race.  Even more established candidates are going to have to step aside from the behemoth of media attention.  However, at some point, we are going to have to look at everything he has said and done more closely.

Remember, back in 2008, amid a flurry of media speculation and attention, former Senator from Tennessee  Fred Thompson entered the race.  He polled well and then started talking.  Then, the novelty wore off and he exited before the first votes were cast for the nomination.  It's a footnote in the race but it does come into play here; we have another candidate who seems like he would do well and it's distinctly possible that nothing will come in the campaign in the long term.

Does anybody remember me?  

I cite that as a possibility.  As a politician, Perry has a lot more going for him than Thompson did in '08.  But when he has to account for statements that he's made in the past (I refer you to the beginning of the article), I would be so bold as to predict that he'll make a strong showing between now and when the first votes are cast, but whether the entire campaign survives is something else entirely.


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