With Republicans looking at dismay with the current crop of presidential candidates, the chatter about the possibility of Texas Governor Rick Perry entering the race is reaching a fever pitch. Despite the support, those who know the governor say there is little chance he will run.
“He has told me on multiple occasions he will not run,” Dwayne Horner, former Perry director and current Republican consultant explained to TheDC.
Indeed, much of his election staff including his former campaign manager Rob Johnson and political advisor Dave Carney are working on Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.
“If you were going to sit down and hire a [Republican] candidate for president, Perry would be a good choice,” Carney told the website TexMessage. “He’s missing one ingredient: the desire to be president.”
Bryan Preston, former communications director of the Republican Party of Texas and current at large editor for Pajamas Media and editor of The Tatler, told TheDC Texas is first and foremost on the governor’s mind, not the White House.
“At this point I don’t think he is running, but he still has the legislative session going on and he is very focused on that and the session right now is winding down but it looks like it is going to be successful, so he will have that at his back to run on,” Preston said. “And the Texas record really speaks for itself. So there is a lot to recommend him as a national figure and he has yet to make that move yet. At this point he is still personally against it.”
While many in his circle believe Perry will not run, Perry fan Melissa Clouthier thinks he would be a tough opponent for Obama and a great leader for the country – yet still she realizes the evidence shows that the chance Perry will mount a run is limited.
“He would be formidable,” Clouthier wrote in an email to TheDC. “A Perry run is possible. Probable? Every day that passes it seems to get more so. But the Perry folks say it’s not happening. I have interviewed him five times or so and ask him every time and every time he says no.”
Perry reiterated Thursday that his focus lies with the state of Texas.
“I’m standing where I’m standing, and we’ve got a legislative session that is substantially more important to the people of the state of Texas and to me to get distracted by any talk, whether it’s what you would call flattering or what I would call maybe not so flattering,” Perry said. “The people of the state of Texas want us to be focused on getting a budget.”
In November, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made an appearance at one of Perry’s book signings in Fort Worth. An event attendee told TheDC that Gingrich expressed before the crowd his belief that Perry would be the best man to run for president – a statement the observer added that the current candidate would not have made were Perry a presidential threat.
Despite the likelihood that Perry will eschew a run, Horner, also the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Conservative Society believes “Perry is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan we have.”
“There is no one, except maybe Sarah Palin, who possesses the retail political skill that Rick Perry owns,” Clouthier told TheDC. “He connects to people. Liberal, conservative…they love him…Outside of that, though, he’s just accomplished. He relentlessly works for Texas–bringing business here, preaching to anyone who will listen about the benefits of small government.”
While he says he is not running, Thursday night Perry took his eyes off of local issues to comment on President Obama’s Middle East speech.
“President Obama’s speech today continues a misguided policy of alienating our traditional allies, in this case Israel, one of our strongest partners in the war on terror. As someone who has visited Israel numerous times, I know that that it is impracticable to revert to the 1967 lines,” Perry said in a statement. “President Obama is asking our Israeli friends to give up too much security and territory as a prelude to a renewed peace process.”
The calls for Perry to run likely will not quiet anytime soon – with a field of Republicans many have deemed weak, most of the prominent southerners out of the race, and his reputation for conservative charisma – Perry on paper looks strong and the “Draft Rick Perry” movement continues.
“I think he may be just what America needs right now,” Clouthier concluded.