For months, Governor Rick Perry vowed he wasn’t interested in a presidential bid.
But just this week, that changed with one seemingly innocuous comment.
“The real key here is that we still have work to do. And as I’ve said a number of times, I’m not going to be distracted by talk or machinations or what have you. Until we get this work done, I’m really focused on making sure that we get these pieces of legislation that are important to the people of the state of Texas. It’s what they hired us to do. Talk to me after the session’s over with.”
So how did Perry go from no intention to run to a sort of kind of maybe response? Professor Mark Jones, chair of Rice University’s Political Science department says several things happened.
“Chris Christie sort of definitively said, at least at that time, that he was not going to be running. Then Mitch Daniels drops out. Donald Trump decides not to run. Sarah Palin is increasingly showing that she’s more focused on her media empire than actually running for president. Mitt Romney’s having trouble with his past as governor of Massachusetts in terms of the healthcare reform there. Newt Gingrich just blew up in his first few days and is really not too credible.”
Jones says all of that created a vacuum in the primary race that Perry could fill.
“He is a governor of a major state. He’s the longest-serving governor. He certainly has conservative credentials. He meets a lot of the requirements of the more conservative wing of the Republican party. He has the ability to raise funds, he’s an excellent campaigner. All of that sort of rolled together and people started talking about a Perry candidacy.”
A Perry presidential campaign could be a tough sell to the rest of the nation, with his ties to former President Bush, who left office with low approval ratings.
But Jones says a primary run now could set Perry up as a prime pick for vice president on the Republican ticket.