Now that he's entered the Republican presidential race, Texas Governor Rick Perry is a big target for Democrats and for his GOP rivals. Here are five avenues of attack that his critics will use against him:
1. Perry's economic record. Perry says he is the best job creator in the race and that low-tax, low-regulation Texas created about 40 percent of all the new jobs generated in the United States over the past two years (even though Texas has only 10 percent of the U.S. population). His critics challenge that. Their line of attack is that Texas has benefited from the federal government's expansion of the military and also from the expansion of the oil industry, which was due to international and national factors, not Perry's policies. "It is way overblown to suggest that the job creation in Texas is squarely on the shoulders of [Perry's] policies," Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CBS yesterday. Democrats also say that much of the employment created in Texas, which has an 8.2 percent jobless rate compared to 9.1 percent nationally, consisted of low-wage jobs that many Americans don't want. [Check out editorial cartoons about the economy.]
2. He's too conservative. Some of his adversaries say Perry is simply too conservative for most Americans. They point to his announcement of his candidacy Saturday when, as a states'-rights advocate, he said, "I'll promise you this: I'll work every day to make Washingon D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I possibly can." This opens him up to claims that he isn't committed to maintaining Social Security and Medicare as they now exist and other federal programs that many people rely on. "He's cutting services [in Texas] in order to maintain really low tax rates," says Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, a longtime Perry critic, "....I think he has, as they would say here in Texas, plenty of 'splaining to do about his positions."
3. Too cozy with special interests. A spokesman for President Obama's re-election campaign says, "Governor Perry allowed special interests to write their own rules, hired corporate lobbyists to oversee corporations and cut funding for programs that would create opportunity for middle class families." This will be a major line of attack for the Democrats who will contrast Perry to Obama and what the White House bills as the president's commitment to Middle America over special interests. [Read more about the 2012 presidential election.]
4. Untested on the national stage. His critics, especially in the GOP, say Perry can't be counted on to conduct a strong, steady campaign because he has never been a national candidate and has never experienced the kind of pressure the campaign will bring. His critics say much of his past has not been fully examined, and it could prove embarrassing. One case cited by Democrats is Perry's 2009 comment that raised the prospect of Texas seceding from the Union.
5. Bush fatigue. Democrats will try to link Perry with George W. Bush, a former Texas governor who served as president from 2001 to 2009 and whose policies, especially on the economy and the Iraq war, remain unpopular. Both Perry and Bush grew up in West Texas, although Bush came from a privileged background and Perry didn't. As president, Bush was often faulted for being too much of a swaggering cowboy who over-simplified problems and who was inflexible about changing his mind once he made a decision. Can Perry show he is a different kind of Texan? [See a slide show of the 2012 GOP candidates.]