If you’ve lived in Texas for part of the past decade – every year of which Rick Perry has been governor – you probably love or hate your top executive. But how do some of the most politically engaged Republicans in the nation view Perry? We put the question to a handful of U-S House Republicans.
“I don’t know a whole lot about him. I know he’s a conservative and he’s been in politics a long time and has a conservative record,” says Oklahoma’s John Sullivan.
“I don’t know a whole lot about Governor Rick Perry’s record in Texas,” Minnesota’s John Kline says.
“I don’t like the idea that he wants to secede from the United States of America. That’s all I know about Rick Perry,” says Missouri’s Jo Ann Emerson. She seems to have missed the part of that speech where Perry said “there’s absolutely no reason to dissolve” the union.
If even Republicans versed in politics don’t know much about Perry that means he’s got a long way to go if he runs for president. But campaign analyst Charlie Cook says his biggest hurdle could be the last Lone Star State president, George W. Bush.
“I think the unique problem that Perry may have is whether the country is suffering from any sort of Texas-fatigue. That Republicans have sort of been there and done that,” Cook says.
Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King reports a different response in his first in the nation caucus state. He says there’s a similar clamoring as there was in two thousand.
“When I remember there were a group of nineteen Republican leaders in the state that chartered a plane and flew to Texas to convince George W. Bush that he should run for the presidency. That similar climate is going on right now,” according to King.
King says he knows only tangential things about Perry, like his tough stance on border security, that he’s battled with the Environmental Protection Agency and that he’s a religious conservative. But King says Perry stance on guns stands out in Iowa too.
“I like the idea that a guy who goes out jogging shoots a Coyote on the way. You know I took a lot of heat from PETA for popping the raccoon a while back. So those kind of things resonate,” says King.
Perry’s main challenge in Iowa will be trying to steal support from its socially conservative native daughter, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. That’s according to analyst Charlie Cook who says the governors in the GOP primary are trying to appeal to more mainstream voters than Perry would.
“Rick Perry will not be competing with a Mitt Romney or a Tim Pawlenty until the championship game. I mean he’s going to be competing for this bigger, far more hard-edged conservative part of the party, which is huge – two thirds of it,” according to Cook.
Cook says a Perry presidential bid could play well in key early voting states, like South Carolina. And even though New Hampshire, the first primary voting state in the nation, isn’t a bastion of social conservatism, New Hampshire Congressmen Charlie Bass says the primary field there is also ripe for Perry or another candidate to shake it up.
“I didn’t hear anything in the New Hampshire debate that was any different than the press releases that the candidates have been sending out. And that’s what voters are saying at this point,” says Bass.
Perry was formerly the agriculture commissioner of Texas, and under his governorship the state created the most jobs in that nation last year. But Cook says his messaging in early primary states will be more important to voters than his past.
“If he were to win the Republican nomination, it would be that the Republican Party was buying what he’s selling. It won’t be because of any specific economic record in Texas, I don’t think,” Cook says.
As stated before, Cook says if Perry runs his big challenge will be siphoning off votes from ultra-conservative Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. He adds that a potential pitfall with that two-way contest for the far right is that Perry and Bachmann could both run too far to the right – so far that they sour the majority of GOP voters nationwide.