The media’s conventional wisdom is that he won’t be able to shake memories of his poor 2012, but then members of that same media couldn’t recognize Marcus “Lone Survivor” Luttrell standing next to Perry onstage today. (Dave Weigel snarks: “It’s Perry’s fault for not standing to real, recognizable heroes, like the Olympics guy who got breast implants.”) There are lots of things the media misses that are right in front of its face. For instance, imagine the impact on Perry skeptics if he gets a question at the first GOP debate on, say, Syria and proceeds to break off a thoughtful two-minute answer on sectarian politics, U.S. leverage, and ISIS’s roots in Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq. It’s true that Perry will have less slack for screw-ups this time because of his “oops” reputation from the last campaign, but the flip side of that is that he also has more room to impress. GOPers who came away from the 2012 primaries thinking he was a dolt or too soft on amnesty will almost inevitably find him more polished this time, now that he doesn’t have to run while trying to manage pain from back surgery with medication. He’s got executive experience, he’s got an economic record that would play in the general election, he’s gotten right with tea partiers on immigration by slamming Obama over last year’s border crisis, and he’s acceptably socially conservative to the base. Even his similarities to Dubya are mitigated this time by Jeb Bush’s presence in the race. He came armed with some memorable shots at the rest of the field too:
"Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor," Rick Perry says. pic.twitter.com/1rNbarOPy1
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) June 4, 2015
That’s a dig at fellow Texan Ted Cruz, with whom he’ll be competing for tea-party votes, even more so than it is at Rand Paul. Anyway, if he’s prepared, he should be formidable, and it’s hard to believe he’d try running again if he wasn’t prepared. My question is, how does he break from the pack? Even if the indictment pending against him in Texas is tossed out, which’ll have to happen for the party to nominate him, needless to say, he’s polling in single digits right now against a talented field that’s by and large solidly conservative. Assume that Perry does well at the debates. Ted Cruz will probably do well too. So will Marco Rubio. How well will Perry need to do to get noticed when younger candidates with higher name recognition are also impressing people? Perry’s got an executive record that they don’t, but there are many executives with solid resumes in the mix too — Walker, for starters, as well as Bush, Jindal, and almost certainly Kasich. (I’m not even counting Christie given how little his base overlaps with Perry’s.) I can imagine Perry squeezing some votes from the other governors and I can imagine him squeezing some votes from tea-partiers like Cruz, but it’s hard to imagine how he squeezes, say, 35 percent out of it. I wonder if he and Jindal will end up in the same spot, as qualified candidates whom the right likes and respects but who end up being overshadowed by splashier, better-funded rivals. Hope I’m wrong about that, though. It’d be a dream come true for the president of the United States to mention “Hot Gas” one day from the White House podium.
Here’s a bit from today’s speech. If you want the full video, the Weekly Standard has it and calls it “electrifying.” Whatever you end up watching, at least watch the second clip below of Perry’s entrance music. In a close race with Jeb Bush, an ass-kicking country-rap anthem could be the difference between victory and defeat, my friends.