Is Rick Perry running for president?

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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Texas Governor Rick Perry is apparently polling voters outside of his home state to gauge his chances of capturing the Republican presidential nomination next year, reports National Review’s Robert Bryce.

Perry’s advisors immediately denied that they were gearing up for a White House run. “We have done no polling in any state other than Texas, period,” Perry aide Dave Carney told Politico. “Nor have we seen any polling that anyone or entity did in any other state. Unequivocally.” Still, Rick Perry, should he choose to run, could be a serious contender in what many have argued is a weak Republican field.

A skilled fundraiser, Perry was picked to lead the Republican Governors Association last year, a move that raised his national profile considerably. He fended off a primary challenge from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson before being re-elected a governor in a landslide last November. (He is the first Texas governor in history to be elected to a full third term.) Perry has a new book out, and with it a book tour, giving him a good excuse to go on television and make new friends around the country while still denying any presidential ambitions.

Perry can also win Texas and its 38 electoral votes. As Bryce notes, only three presidents have won the presidency since Calvin Coolidge without taking Texas: Richard Nixon (in 1968), Bill Clinton (in 1992 and 1996), and Barack Obama.

However, Perry also comes with some unique baggage. In a 2009 speech to a group of Tea Party supporters, Perry brought up the idea of secession from the union. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it,” he said. “But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” The crowd loved it (according to one poll, half of Republican voters are open to the idea of leaving the union) but, if Perry has national ambitions, his musing about secession would most likely come back to haunt him.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star state is facing a revenue shortfall, and an Austin-based political consultant tells Bryce that the governor will not sign a tax bill.  That means thousands of public workers are likely to be laid off in a state already saddled with high unemployment. For Perry and his advisors, it just might be looking like the right time to pack their bags, do some out of state polling, and get out of Texas.

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