AUSTIN (KRLD 1080) – It’s been really interesting to see the national media reporters all over Austin trying to find juicy nuggets to report about Governor Perry. They’re here to try to understand who Rick Perry really is and condense that into a story that a national audience can digest.
This means the nation will be learning things about Perry that many Texans already know: He’s a big fan of toll roads, tried to mandate a vaccine against an STD for young girls, leads a state with a huge number of uninsured people, grew up “in the sticks” and plays the piano. Maybe Texans didn’t know that last one.
Most Texans who care about politics probably know that he used to be a Democrat. Some say that’s not a big deal, but I think it is. The reason it’s big is that he had the uncanny sense to switch to the GOP before the Republicans took over the state. When he switched, he was one of only a few Republicans to win. The rest followed in later elections.
Even though the buzz in this town is similar to the buzz before Governor George W. Bush announced, the styles of the two men almost could not be more different.
Bush, out of necessity, was a bipartisan leader who worked with the Democrats in the Texas Legislature on a variety of issues. Perry is not like that. But, Perry doesn’t have to be like that. He’s been dealing with a Republican-led Legislature since 2003. Politically, his best bet has always been to run as far to the right as possible. It’s been a winning formula for him on election day since 1985.
I spoke with Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith today about the kind of scrutiny Perry and Texas will be subjected to if the governor gets into the race for the White House.[audio http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/nyc.podcast.play.it/media/d0/d0/d0/dY/dE/dI/d7/YEI7_3.MP3]
This coming weekend in South Carolina, Perry intends to “make his intentions clear” about a possible bid for the White House.
So, is this really like the run-up to first presidential campaign of George W. Bush? One seasoned reporter at the State Capitol who was in Austin when Bush ran for president said “all the big things are the same.”