The telltale signs of a Rick Perry 2012 campaign
There are several ways to tell if someone is really running for president. One is for them to comment publicly that today's voters are obviously seeking other options from the current field.
A second is to say 1) you are exploring the possibility and then add 2) a gratuitous pitch that your state has created more private-sector jobs in the last decade than all other states combined. Who cares, unless......
Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry did both Tuesday. (And produced a surprise video below.)
Speaking self-servingly on behalf of millions of Americans he did not identify, Perry told the Texas Tribune, "People would like to have some other options in the race, obviously."
With his top campaign strategists having deserted Newt Gingrich last week, Perry is manned and ready. And who wouldn't want to escape Austin in the summer? As chairman of the Republican Governors Assn., Perry's on the horn every day with political and financial heavy-hitters nationwide.
On Fox Business Network on Tuesday, Perry was asked if his aides' return was a clear sign of a candidacy. The longest-serving governor in Texas history told Neil Cavuto, "I think it’s a clear sign that I’m certainly giving it an appropriate thought process. Six weeks ago, this was not on my radar screen."
In fact, on Tuesday night he was in New York City speaking at a Lincoln Day dinner, and he's to meet Wednesday morning with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Perry, who says he has "some time" before a decision is necessary, will no doubt seek Giuliani's insights on what not to do in a primary campaign. (See Giuliani, Florida, 2008.)
As exciting and refreshing as the opportunity might be for Perry and his fiscally conservative fans, these campaigns are complex operations, not one national campaign but basically a different campaign for every state targeted. Mitt Romney's been organizing since the day after he conceded to the old Arizona guy three years ago.
However, Americans, especially Republicans, love chief executives (or generals) as presidential candidates. In the last nine presidential elections, eight of them were won by governors or a vice president. And five of the losers were or had been senators.
Look at the current Republican field: Romney, Pawlenty, Huntsman, maybe Palin, all ex-governors, who do not live in a presidential bubble and create a grassroots public reputation on balancing budgets, getting things done, not endlessly talking, squabbling, maneuvering, fighting like D.C. legislators (Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul).
Romney looked presidential, poised and did pretty well in Monday night's first New Hampshire debate, which was more of an Obama beat-up than a GOP set-to. But few Republicans are overwhelmed by the current lineup even when Huntsman formally enters next week.
So, someone from the South, a former Eagle Scout who doesn't raise taxes, whose state is gaining electoral votes this time just might see an opening. And he's certainly established his opposition to Washingtonitis and Obama. “You have a president who is anti-job and I have no idea why," Perry told Cavuto.
A third way to spot a likely presidential candidate is if they volunteer that they did not watch the latest political event on TV. Perry happened to mention that he didn't catch the New Hampshire debate. He was watching Texas A&M's baseball team defeat Florida State.
And then there was this strange, allegedly unscheduled, cameo appearance by Perry on Tuesday night's "Glenn Beck Show." Watch the video.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (Perry).