A national Gallup poll now shows Rick Perry in third place among GOP presidential candidates, behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. The Republican nominating convention meets in Florida a long nine months from now, and many unforeseen fireworks, and much unloaded candidate “baggage,” could shift popular opinion dramatically. Thus, in spite of some gaffes this fall, Perry remains a tenacious contender, and might well emerge the victor in Florida.
In stark contrast to other Republican contenders (nearly all are current or former members of Congress, academics, lobbyists and one-term governors), Perry has won six consecutive Texas elections — agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor, then four unprecedented terms as governor.
He is powerfully connected throughout America, and was chosen chair of the Republican Governors Conference.
Perry has an impressive record in actually governing a state of 26 million that produces more than $1 trillion annually in goods and services (second only to California), a state that ranks 17th in GNP worldwide if Texas were a nation.
Since 2000 Perry has presided over Texas’ growth of 730,000 private-sector jobs (mostly in health care, trade, energy and professional services), while America has lost 2.2 million private-sector jobs in the same period.
Perry is the only candidate of either party with military experience. For five years, he was an Air Force captain piloting C-130 cargo planes around the world. He led three dozen Texas trade missions to every corner of the globe and gained an even deeper international perspective.
Perry embodies the American ideal of the self-made man. He would be the first president in more than 100 years who rose from genuine poverty, without a silver-spoon advantage, the “right” connections, or family wealth. Perry worked for 13 years with his father in high-risk dry farming on the arid Texas plains, mastering perseverance and entrepreneurship in depth.
Perry is more reformer than ideologue of the left or right. You always know where he stands, without the contradictions, photo-ops, flip-flops and hidden baggage of most politicians.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, America’s 19th-century sage, clearly describes the Perry personality as one who “speaks the truth, who is just, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned.”
He persists with an undaunted boldness and a fortitude not to be wearied out.”
Evergreen businessman Russ Campbell was previously Aspen city manager and an American diplomat in Brazil and Venezuela.