As Rick Perry attempts to rebound in the polls with a concentrated ad campaign and the very apropos slogan, “I’m a doer, not a talker,” the residents of his home state say he really can’t even take credit for Texas’ outsized economy.
According to a University of Texas-Texas Tribune poll, just 21 percent of Texas voters cite Perry’s leadership and policies as the source of Texas’ economic success. In contrast, 65 percent say long-standing policies and natural resources account for the rosy glow of Texas.
Those “long-standing policies” include a balanced budget, the absence of a state personal income tax and a laid-back regulatory environment. Still, just because those policies preceded Perry doesn’t mean he shouldn’t receive some credit for their continuance under him. Consider all the new taxes and regulations the Obama administration has proposed or implemented; Perry could have done the same on the state level. Instead, he promoted lower taxes, further-reduced regulation and a smaller state government.
In many respects, the first rule for politicians should be the same as the first rule for doctors: “First, do no harm.” It’s impressive to me that Perry, as the longest-serving governor of the state of Texas, has done as little damage as he has. More time, more time to make mistakes — and he hasn’t made so many as voters seem to think. Even his controversial immigration policies were highly supported within Texas.
Maybe Texans are just a little embarrassed after Perry’s poor debate performances. Certainly, they don’t think he’s brought positive renown to the state. The same poll showed 37 percent of Texans think Perry’s presidential candidacy has “hurt” the state’s image with voters nationwide, while 19 percent said it has “helped.” Another 34 percent said his candidacy has had “no effect.”
Ouch. Maybe Perry needs to first repair his image at home before he attempts to win the nation. That is, he needs to do more than just state that Texas has grown economically under his leadership. He needs to explain why, to highlight clearly and continually — to voters in Texas and elsewhere — the link between the executive decisions he’s made as the governor and the job creation the state has seen. The case can be made — he just needs to make it.
Incidentally, 52 percent of those polled identified themselves as “slightly conservative,” “somewhat conservative” or “extremely conservative” compared with just 22 percent of those polled who identified themselves as “slightly liberal,” “somewhat liberal” or “extremely liberal.” So, the poll results don’t skew against Perry because those polled oppose his conservatism. The D/I/R percentages were 29/27/34.