Now, it’s true that if you close your eyes, his voice is hard to distinguish from another Texas governor, George W. Bush. Some of his facial expressions also resemble Bush’s. They both can also garble a sentence every now and then and get trapped in some odd syntax, though Bush is far more prone to this than Perry. Also like Bush, Perry can hand out nicknames and tends to dislike and tweak the mainstream media. Both are kind of Texas things that may seem odd to those born outside the old republic, and can make us seem a little weird to non-Texans. Not hippie Austin weird, just a little different. Which, in fairness, we are.
Superficial things aside, Perry is not the second coming of Bush. He is a bit more instinctive and, politically, to Bush’s right. On policy he is libertarian to conservative, and Obama’s most natural nemesis. He’s the Texas governor that your liberal friends warned you about. If he runs for president, Perry will have to work extra hard to drive that not-Bush truth home, both to disenchanted Republicans and independents who pine for Bush now but might have second thoughts as the vote draws near. What he is is a very capable governor and arguably the best campaigner Texas has ever produced. Both his supporters and critics agree on the latter, at least. He assembles excellent talent and then unleashes them on his opponent, while he sticks to his core messages and themes. He has his detractors left and right, but that’s true of anyone who has spent time in the arena, and Perry has served as governor longer than anyone else in Texas history. He has served long enough to have piled up a policy mistake or two, which is also natural. If he runs, expect to hear a lot about the Trans-Texas Corridor, HPV vaccine and the border. But after more than 10 years in the hot seat, it would be unnatural if Perry didn’t have some critics. Those who search for the “perfect” candidate to take on Obama will search in vain.
If Rick Perry runs for president, he’ll definitely shake up the campaign and bring a Texan mix of brashness and valuable experience to the race. As a one-time conservative Democrat who saw the light, switched parties, and brought truckloads of his former colleagues over to the right with him, Perry does resemble another former governor. But that governor wasn’t from Texas.