Yesterday, I described the case against Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a list of five arguments being used by his critics. Today, I give the case for Perry with five arguments that his supporters are using to promote his presidential candidacy.
1. Economic record. In the past two years, about 40 percent of all the new jobs created in the United States were in Texas, even though the state has only 10 percent of the nation's population. Perry says this is because of his policies of low taxes, minimal government regulation and the creation of a business-friendly environment. Texas has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent compared with 9.1 percent nationally. The reason this record is so compelling, and so worrisome for Democrats, is that unemployment and the economy are the top concerns of voters, and many don't think President Obama has done a good job addressing them. [Read more about the 2012 presidential election.]
2. Conservative. While the Democrats say he is extreme, Perry argues that his less-government, less-spending mantra is right for the times. He says he wants to make Washington, D.C. as "inconsequential" as possible in Americans' lives. This statement, which Perry made upon announcing his candidacy on Saturday, is music to the ears of conservatives who say President Obama has gone too far in using the federal government to spend money and meddle in society.
3. Ability to inspire core GOP constituencies. Perry is popular with social conservatives and evangelical Christians, who represent a powerful Republican base in many states. He appeared to cement his relationship with these groups when he held a day of prayer and fasting in Houston earlier this month to ask God's help for the United States, which he says is in crisis. "He doesn't just have supporters, he has people who would be willing to go over a cliff with him," says a GOP strategist who has advised presidential candidates in the past. This is indispensable to any candidate and any president because it provides a loyal following even in tough times.
4. Fundraising potential. Perry can tap into the vast fundraising potential of Texas, traditionally a big source of contributions for Republicans. Many prominent Republican donors in Texas and elsewhere haven't been enthusiastic about their choices in the GOP field until Perry got into the race. Now they may be more willing to open their wallets. [Check out editorial cartoons about the economy.]
5. Personal attributes. Perry is an excellent campaigner. His affability, plain-speaking style and populist streak were on display during a trip to the Iowa State Fair Monday. He was asked about comparisons between himself and his predecessor as Texas governor, George W. Bush, who happened to be president for eight years. "I am Rick Perry and he is George Bush," Perry said. "And our records are quite different." Asked what the biggest difference is, Perry said, "I went to Texas A&M. He went to Yale." In past campaigns, Perry has shown resilience and an ability to overcome adversity. He has been governor of Texas for nearly 11 years, the longest-serving governor in state history.