After reading much commentary about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “weakness” after his failed presidential bid, I decided to check it out for myself. Mind you, I’ve never been a huge Rick Perry fan but I’ve learned that you should not underestimate his ability. I’ve been to a fair number (dozens?) of his rallies, so I know what to expect. Well, you know, before his alleged political death (cough, Burka, cough). Guess what?
This dude ain’t even close to being dead in Texas.
Today’s rally featuring Gov. Perry’s Texas Budget Compact and endorsement of Rep. James White’s reelection bid was classic Rick Perry. And I mean classic. No one in Texas politics comes close to Rick Perry when it comes to retail politics. He has the ability to make you think that he came to see you instead of me driving a 180 mile round trip to see him. Sure, the hair is a bit grayer and the lines on his face a bit deeper, but make no mistake, Rick Perry remains a formidable politician. I’d hate to be the guy that decided to spend $20 million to go up against him in 2014.
I arrived at the Catfish Cabin in Lumberton early to get a feel for the crowd. There were certainly some James White supporters there but the crowd was there for Gov. Perry. And Gov. Perry left no doubt – he was there to support James White – his Texas Budget Compact was secondary. He strongly endorsed Rep. White’s bid for reelection, agreeing with Rep. White’s opening statement that neither man “evolves” – they have solid core beliefs that cannot be compromised. Obviously that was a reference to President Obama’s statement on homosexual marriage. And it played well to a packed room at the restaurant.
Who knows what will happen in this race? I certainly don’t. Listening to AM 560 KLVI on the route to and fro, I heard strong ads from both candidates. Challenger Rep. Mike Hamilton’s ad made reference to Rep. White’s dismissal from a local high school for vulgarity in a classroom. Rep. White’s ad talked about tax liens against Rep. Hamilton. Both men are well funded and have plenty of supporters, so your guess is probably better than mine as to who wins.
But what I can tell you without question is that Gov. Perry won today. Sure, the naysayers will continue to hit him, and I’m sure I will as well, but never, ever underestimate his ability to connect with people.
Or win elections, his presidential quest notwithstanding.
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