During the Christmas holiday, I noted that Rick Perry’s decision to do battle with the EPA would give the Texas governor a national platform on which to battle Barack Obama — and a perfect launching pad for a presidential run. Perry’s team denies any interest in national office after winning his third term as governor last year, but Perry doesn’t seem to be shying away from national issues, either. Politico reports that Perry has now taken up border security and abortion on his way to a speech at CPAC this week along with his EPA fight:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he’s not running for president. But his recent decision to prioritize border security and abortion as “emergency” items for the state Legislature has many wondering whether he’s privately thinking otherwise.
While Perry promised a solidly conservative agenda en route to his November reelection for a third term, his newly announced push to take on five major legislative efforts — passing bills to end sanctuary cities in Texas, creating a voter identification law, requiring that sonograms be performed before abortions, crafting new eminent domain protections and balancing the budget — has nevertheless come as something of a surprise at a time when the state is facing a major budget shortfall. …
The Texas governor says he is just fulfilling promises and chides state legislators for not being able to multitask. But with Perry’s interest in maintaining a national profile and a wide open GOP presidential field, his moves to force lightning rod issues such as abortion and immigration onto the docket are raising questions about his intentions.
The “emergency” declaration carries legal weight in Texas. It allows a governor to fast-track legislative efforts at the same priority level as budgeting. That puts abortion at the same political priority as the budget gap this year in Texas, and keeps Perry’s name in the mix on several policy issues that play at the national level.
Take a look at the list of issues, too. Eminent domain reform is less of a hot-button issue than it was after the Kelo decision, but it’s still a solid property-rights and limited-government issue. Voter ID is an evergreen topic for conservatives across the country. It would be difficult to find two more hot-button issues than abortion and immigration on the Right outside of federal spending and regulation — which Perry has already taken on with his EPA war. Perry has neatly provided himself with an expansive, broad-based path to a presidential run, and it’s hard to believe that’s an accident.
Perry will speak at CPAC this week. I’ve seen him speak before, and he is a powerful, dynamic presence on stage. Don’t be surprised to see a “draft” movement start soon. He may issue the standard demurrals, but there are few coincidences like this in politics.