WASHINGTON, June 5, 2011 — After denying presidential aspirations many times over the past several months, Texas governor Rick Perry has now lightened up his position a bit and is currently not ruling out the possibility of running. Perry’s possible candidacy might be exciting for some conservatives and establishment Republicans – especially in a race of uninspiring presidential hopefuls – but if he wishes to run he will have an uphill battle that he is unlikely to win.
The number one issue in the 2012 election will undoubtedly be the economy. While this is not necessarily a weak area for Perry, it doesn’t define him as a candidate. The governor’s most well known positions are on social issues like his strong pro-life views or his stance against same-sex marriage. Perhaps he is most notorious for his position on the now overturned sodomy law. This was a policy which outlawed homosexual relations in the state of Texas. When asked about the law, Governor Perry called it “appropriate”. This is a position that he will most likely have to defend if he gains the Republican nomination and reaches the general election.
If Perry decides to enter the race, he’ll need to prove himself when it comes to fiscal issues. Fellow Texan, Ron Paul, predicted the financial crash back in September of 2003 and is now much more respected when it comes to fiscal issues. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich claims some credibility on the economy due to being Speaker in the late 90’s when the jobs were plentiful and the economy was on an upswing. Herman Cain and Mitt Romney boast successful business experience which helps them tremendously.
What do these four men have in common? According to a Gallup poll taken on May 26th, they are the top four candidates that are currently running for President in the Republican field. Although Rick Perry may share similar views with these other candidates, he does not have as much to show for it.
Another problem that the Texas governor will have to deal with is his image of being a career politician and looking too much like an establishment candidate.
It’s true that Gingrich and Romney might fit this mold as well, but they are the exceptions when looking at the rest of the Republican field. While Herman Cain was chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve civilian board, he hasn’t held any kind of elected office. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman – neither of whom have officially declared yet – are both seen as outsiders. And although Dr. Ron Paul has been in Congress for twelve terms, he has probably spent more time fighting the establishment than any other candidate in the race. Perry has been in some sort of elected position for over 25 straight years, which might not help him with the crowd of conservatives that just last year voted out many incumbents throughout the country.
One thing that Perry might have to explain to conservative voters in the weeks and months to come is why he endorsed Al Gore for President in 1988 and was the Texas Chair of the Gore campaign. It is true that the governor switched parties a year later, but the past generally has a way of creeping back up on a person, especially when that person is running for President. This could turn some Republican primary voters away unless he can provide a legitimate reason why he supported the future Democratic Vice-President.
Providing that Rick Perry can overcome any anger that may arise from supporting Gore in 1988, the biggest problem he’ll have to face will not be in the Republican primaries. It’ll be in the general election. Governor Perry will have to convince independent voters that he is unlike the man that he succeeded as Governor of Texas, former President George W. Bush.
This is similar to the problem that most likely kept Bush’s brother Jeb – also governor of a large state – from running himself. While the former governor of Florida has long been respected by conservatives and is an individual who many believe could do very well this time around, his last name does him no favors.
It’s difficult to ignore the similarities between Perry and the former President. Both were governors of Texas, both have very similar political views, and they even both have that same kind of Texas talk. This will be the biggest obstacle that Rick Perry will need to overcome in order to even be considered presidential material.
Unfortunately for Rick Perry, the independent voters – who swung to Obama by a substantial margin in 2008, largely in opposition to Bush’s policies, always decide elections. George W. Bush left this country with a bad taste in its mouth, and Governor Rick Perry will do nothing but remind it of that horrible flavor.
Conor Murphy is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. As a former radio talk show host on WVCW, Conor hosted two popular shows, Murphy’s Law and Son of the Revolution.
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