Stateline Story

Texas Governor Rick Perry Poised to Join Presidential Race

  • August 12, 2011
  • By Daniel C. Vock

Texas Governor Rick Perry, the nation's longest-serving governor, is expected announce his bid for the presidency in South Carolina on Saturday (August 13). The outspoken advocate of states' rights and conservative positions could have an outsized impact on the race among Republicans to challenge President Obama next year.

"The Texas governor with fancy boots and a swagger to match has caught the imagination of many Republicans dissatisfied with the longer-standing field of hopefuls, particularly in a year they see as a rare opportunity to take on an incumbent president with voters worried over their jobs, their investments and the country's economic future," writes the Houston Chronicle .

Perry likely will take credit for Texas' relatively healthy economic situation during his tenure. In recent years, he has relished opportunities to tout the companies that have relocated to Texas from other states, particularly California. On Thursday, in fact, Perry even took a playful jab at Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican. "Just got off the phone with your governor who's angry because Texas stole some jobs from Florida," Perry told a reporter from the St. Petersburg Times .

But entering the presidential field means that Perry's 11-year tenure as governor will come under close scrutiny. Already, Democratic operatives are questioning his narrative on job creation. David Axelrod, an Obama adviser, said Texas' growth had more to do with high oil prices and the waging of two wars than with Perry. "I don't think many people would attribute it to the leadership of the governor down there," Axelrod said, according to The Associated Press .

Perry could suffer some of the same kind of criticism as many of the former GOP governors already vying for the nomination, particularly for pushing moderate or liberal policies.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, for example, has taken flak for the universal health insurance program he championed, which was a blueprint for the later national health care overhaul.

Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota's former governor, famously criticized the federal law as "Obamneycare," but he, too, is under fire. During Thursday's Iowa debate, fellow Minnesotan Michelle Bachman ripped Pawlenty for pushing policies that sound "a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me," The New York Times notes. She cited Pawlenty's support for carbon dioxide emissions limits and health insurance mandates.

And conservatives may not like all of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman's policies, either, the AP reported earlier. Among those policies are "his support of cap and trade as a response to climate change, his backing of civil unions for gay couples, and his support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants."

Perry also supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and argued for the mandatory vaccination of girls for HPV , which angered some conservatives. HPV can be transmitted by sexual contact and can cause cancer.