I think Governor Rick Perry has even shot both to beat Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination for President, as well as defeating President Obama next year.
He has the gravitas and experience that only Governors of mid-to-large states possess. He has been Governor of Texas for 12 years. While the Texas governorship is “weak” compared to governorships in most other states, his long tenure appears to have acquainted him with important issues that come with high office.
He has a record on job-creation that is the best in both parties — since 2007 nearly 40% of all jobs created in America were created in Texas. Liberals (like Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times) who try to down-play this record must do mental contortions to try to obscure this success. Their criticisms of this success will ring hollow and will not be credible.
As a Governor, he can claim to have provided a policy framework in his state to attract private investment. This is a clearer contrast than Romney, whose record as a private equity fund CEO has holes in it – the companies closed, jobs cut, etc, in the pursuit of quick profits.
And while Barack Obama has been doing everything wrong on policy, Perry can point to his own opposing policies which have worked in his state. On unemployment as well as job creation, Perry’s Texas is much better than Obama’s America – Texas’ unemployment rate is nearly a point lower than the national average.
I think if Perry can raise enough money, he may have enough staying power to unite conservative primary voters and displace Romney as front-runner. Bachmann voters might see Perry as the candidate of the right who can win.
Is America ready for another Texas Governor, so soon after W? I think it helps Perry that there is open disdain between W’s supporters and Perry and his team. That will help Perry distance himself from Bush.
Perry’s personal narrative also is un-Bush-like. Air Force Captain (pilot) presumably enlisted without the benefit of cushy appointments due to family connections. Son of tenant farmers. Middle-class up-bringing.
Can a strong conservative win independent voters in swing states in the general election?
I think the answer is unequivocally yes. Remember that in most states self-described conservatives out-number self-described liberals by 2:1 margins or better. Even in NJ, there are more self-identifying conservatives than self-identifying liberals (by 3:2 margins in most NJ state-wide polls).
This is still a center-right country, perhaps even more so since the nation has 3 years experience with liberal and socialistic policies, which they are rejecting.
It is apparent to me that Rick Perry’s views are much closer to most voters than Barack Obama’s views.
Last, Perry’s announcement speech captured a “Reagan-esque” vision of optimism, hope, and dreams of better times to come. His themes of American exceptionalism will be a good contrast with Obama’s apologize for America narratives.
If Perry can raise enough money to compete with Romney, I think he has a strong chance at the nomination. If he wins the nomination, I think he will give the incumbent a run for his $1 billion campaign warchest.