Rick Perry: From favorite to underdog

Perry is a brilliant politician, but a terrible campaigner.


FRESNO, Calif., June 8, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is making his second run for the White House, and the naysayers are already saying what they say and doing what they do. If presidential candidates focused solely on substance, Perry would be a favorite to win the White House.

His record as governor was nothing short of spectacular. While most of America was hemorrhaging jobs, Perry’s Texas was creating them. Successful individuals and businesses disgusted with anti-business climates from California to New York found refuge in the Lone Star State.

Those desperate to minimize Perry’s role point out that the Texas constitution renders its governorship the weakest in the nation. The lieutenant governor has most of the power. Accepting this argument still does not allow for the dismissal of Perry’s record, since he was lieutenant governor under Gov. George W. Bush before the latter won the White House. Texas has had a business renaissance for two decades, so Perry deserves credit for at least a healthy part of it.

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Unfortunately for Perry, substance only applies to governing. Campaigning is an entirely different animal. If substance mattered, Democrats would not have won the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. They are attempting to replace one empty shell with another one, a candidate with no experience with one who only has failed experiences.

Governing is about deeds. Campaigning is about words. It is also about the horse race. Perry entered the 2012 presidential race as the favorite based on his deeds. His campaign stumbled badly out of the gate due to his words.

The left hated him because he was as seen as even more Texan than his predecessor. Those who hated George W. Bush hated Rick Perry even more. Successful conservatives have that effect on liberals. This Perry derangement syndrome had conservatives ready to hand him the nomination.

Then came his words. The low point came in the disastrous presidential debate when he could not remember the three government agencies he would shut down. His entire political career was reduced to one very public gaffe.

In 2016, Perry begins near the back of the pack. He even has competition from his fellow Texan, a senator beloved by conservatives.

While Perry’s situation could be seen as disheartening, it can also be liberating. In 2012 Perry faced all the pressure that comes with being a frontrunner. Now the expectations bar is so low that slight improvement can be portrayed as momentum.

The Republican Party has a history of nominating candidates who have run before Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole won the GOP nomination on their third try, while John McCain and Mitt Romney both needed two attempts. The Republican Party puts a heavy emphasis on experience.

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Political junkies enjoy the horse race, but many Americans just want something and someone to believe in. After six years of broken dreams and shattered lives, Americans want somebody who can put people back to work, rein in the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and keep America safe from domestic and foreign terrorist threats.

They want a leader who is respectful with traditional allies Israel, Britain and Canada and tougher on adversaries China and Russia. They want America to stop letting Iran and ISIS bully the world’s only superpower. They want a leader who is everything the current leader is not.

A successful presidential candidate in 2016 needs to have the ability to govern and to inspire. Rick Perry has definitely succeeded with his deeds. Now Americans will soon find out if his 2012 flubs were an aberration or the norm. He starts out as an underdog. Like another Texan, it may be a mistake to “misunderestimate” him.

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