AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Rick Perry’s campaign for president may be over, but how will he be remembered?
Image-wise, the Perry for President campaign may be best known for debate gaffes, including his ‘oops’ moment last November when he couldn’t think of the third of three U.S. government departments he promised he would close.
But is it fair such slipups should be the thing most Americans remember? “They were ready for him; the media, the national media, many of his opponents,” says University of Texas at Arlington’s Allan Saxe.
Saxe believes there’s a national grudge against Texas or anyone associated with former president and governor George W. Bush. Perry was Lieutenant Governor when then-Governor Bush first ran for President. “And if he stumbled just a little bit,” Saxe says of Perry, “they’re ready to push him down the rest of the cliff. And that’s exactly what happened.”
North Texas voter Pam Davis believes the national media deliberately twisted Perry’s words. “I think a lot of the things he stands for is what the American people want; it’s just that they’re making him look like an idiot.”
Dallas County’s Republican party chair is slightly more diplomatic. “Whether or not the views reflect your own views or whether or not it reflects well on Texas depends on your own perspective,” says Wade Emert.
There’s a school of thought that thinks Perry was savaged pretty well by the national media, but locals think he acquitted himself – and the state – pretty well. “I think he did pretty well in the race and I think he reflected well on Texas, and I don’t think he has anything he needs to be ashamed of,” says Ray Warner. But Graham Gadenne thinks Perry brought some of the criticism on himself. “I think in a lot of his ads he came off as ignorant and not very open-minded. And I’m someone that agreed with a lot of his politics.”
SMU political science professor Cal Jillson doesn’t think Perry will run for office again. “I doubt it, I doubt it. I think when you get beat this bad some of your heart is gone, some of your joy in politics is gone.”
He does see life after politics for the longest-serving governor. “He’s got a year before the legislature comes back into session and he’ll spend that time rebuilding his foundations but I don’t think he’s going to run for another term in 2014.” Jillson points out Perry will be in his mid-60s in January of 2015, and that Perry has not become rich in office. “Like everyone else he would like to be a wealthy man, so I think he’ll spend some time on the private side, maybe working in political consulting, maybe working in banking and finance.”
Saxe believes Perry may still have some fight left in him. “He does have a political future in one sense. I don’t think he’s going to run for re-election for governor He’s already been the longest-serving governor in Texas history. “
“ He’s already made his mark on Texas history,” he added.
Saxe believes Perry could possibly be tagged as Secretary of Agriculture or Secretary of the Interior in a Republican cabinet. “Whether or not he would want to assume what is very much an administrative position – where he’s been the governor of a state – is difficult to know. But it’s happened before.”
But if not, Saxe also sees Perry going into the private sector after 2014. “Maybe serve as a consultant, be on the board of directors of some major corporation or foundation. And that’s likely what will happen.”
Perry has said only that he’s returning to Texas, but there are reports he will campaign for Newt Gingrich in the Texas primary, unless the Republican GOP race is wrapped up by then.