Thriller novelist Brad Thor says it wasn’t a foregone conclusion he would endorse Rick Perry for president.
When the former Texas governor officially entered the 2016 presidential race in Addison, Texas June 4, Thor was among the phalanx of prominent supporters, including “Lone Survivor” Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, standing behind him. But in an interview with The Daily Caller last week, Thor, who supported Rick Santorum’s presidential bid in 2012, says he was initially skeptical of Perry because of his “lousy” 2012 presidential campaign.
Thor’s journey from Perry-skeptic to enthusiastic endorser began last year when Perry asked the New York Times best-selling author to bring his family to visit him down at the governor’s mansion in Austin. The two had first connected months earlier when Perry tried to persuade Thor to move to Texas when he heard the author was planning to leave Illinois. To Perry’s chagrin, Thor ultimately chose Tennessee.
When Thor got the call from Perry to come meet with him, he knew what the Texas governor was seeking, but wasn’t sure he could oblige.
“I was really underwhelmed with the governor’s debate performance,” Thor said of Perry’ embarrassing 2012 debate gaffes, “so I wanted to put him in a debate situation. I wanted the governor to debate Brad Thor. I wanted to get him, and I wanted to get him alone.”
So last fall, Thor journeyed to Texas.
“He still had his governor’s duties, and he’d come home, and I’d catch him in the morning, I’d catch him in the evening, and we’d sit on the porch of the Governor’s Mansion,” Thor said. “I was unforgiving in my hammering. I figured, ‘OK, let’s see what this guy’s got.'”
Thor says he discussed monetary policy, domestic policy and foreign policy with the governor and came away convinced that Perry “is a different man than he was when he last went through the crucible of the Republican primary process.”
“I have no time for stupid people,” he said. “Rick Perry is very, very, very — that’s three verys — intelligent.”
Thor left Texas with a good feeling about Perry, but he didn’t tell the governor he would have his support if he ran until a couple months later. Shortly before he stood behind Perry in Addison earlier this month as the governor officially launched his campaign, Thor says Santorum called him to get his endorsement and he had to break the news that the former Pennsylvania senator wouldn’t be getting his support this time around.
“That was probably one of the toughest things I had to do,” Thor said.
Though he is enthusiastically behind Perry, Thor says he “will not knock anybody in the Republican field,” except for Jeb Bush because he’s “not into dynasties.” But what set Perry apart for Thor — besides Perry’s record in Texas, which Thor says “nobody” in the race “can match”– was the governor’s character.
“The first meal I ate with him, he gave a prayer. Not only did he pray for the future of the country, he also prayed for President Obama,” Thor explained. “He prayed that President Obama would be granted wisdom and would be shown the right decisions to make for the nation. That’s not a show thing, because I’ve seen him do it multiple times. I’ve seen him do it with just the two of us, and that impressed me. That really impressed me.”
After Perry’s June entrance into the race, Thor campaigned with him in several early primary states. Though a busy man — his 15th novel “Code of Conduct” comes out July 7 and Warner Brothers is turning his novel “The Athena Project” into a film starring female mixed martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey — Thor is committed to doing whatever Perry asks him to do because he believes this election is the “last chance” to save the country.
“Am I going to be going to town halls with the governor to introduce him and to tell people why? Yes,” he explained. “Am I going to be a surrogate for him? Am I going to go on TV and debate with people from Scott Walker’s camp, or Jeb Bush’s camp to say, ‘This is why Rick Perry’s better than your guy?’ Yes. I’d do all of that.”
NEXT PAGE: Would Thor Serve As Perry’s Vice President?
What’s more, Thor says he is willing to help write speeches and cut ads.
“I’ve offered myself up on that, because I think one of the biggest problems the Republican Party has is that it doesn’t have good storytellers,” he said.
Asked whether he fears his vocal political advocacy could turn off readers who don’t have the same political leanings he does, Thor concedes that’s “a big fear I have, because I have a product to sell.”
But, Thor added, he feels he has a patriotic duty to speak out.
Right now, Perry isn’t polling particularly well, currently sitting in 10th place nationally in the Republican field at 3 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. In this position, he is in danger of not making the cut off for some of the Republican debates.
Perry’s current polling doesn’t much concern Thor, who cites former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s massive lead in primary polls in 2008 before he “flamed out.”
And what if Perry does come from behind to win the Republican nomination and then the general election, would Thor consider putting his writing career on hold and join a man he says he would follow into “hell with a spoon” with into the White House?
“I don’t have a desire to do it,” Thor says, but “if Rick Perry gets into the White House, and if governor and president-elect Perry says to me, ‘We can’t do this without you,’ I would walk away from my career. If the country needed it, I would go do it.”
Upon further reflection, Thor sort of warms to the idea.
“I don’t want to be a politician, so if they want somebody to come in and swing an axe, who doesn’t care where the pieces fall with the establishment, if you want me to come in and just absolutely take them to the woodshed, it might be hard to turn down,” he added. “If it’s part of making the country stronger and better and making Washington more efficient, and I get to swing an axe, oooh, that would be hard to say ‘no’ to, because the country needs it.”
*This story has been updated