Don't settle: Rick Perry for president

As for the general election, there is no reason to believe that either Romney or Gingrich would be a significantly stronger general election candidate. Both have multiple major vulnerabilities. In Romney’s case, he’s won one election in 17 years of running for office, he’s transparently insincere and has flip-flopped on nearly every issue you could name. His signature achievement is Romneycare, a bill that drew Ted Kennedy’s approval and set the stage for Obamacare. Truthfully, the campaigns have only scratched the surface of his vulnerabilities arising from his wealth and business practices, something that will not be so easily looked over by the Obama campaign. In Gingrich’s case, he’s never held executive office or won a statewide election. He was – not so long ago – perhaps the most unpopular politician in living memory, and his marital and other problems are likely to dog him throughout the election. Are both men miles better than Obama? Yes. Could both win? Yes, against this president in this year. But both have such severe electoral vulnerabilities that preferring either to Perry solely on grounds that they’d run better in a general election is a fool’s errand.

Perry’s greatest asset is that he has a tremendous story to tell about the success of the Texas economy. When it comes to the Texas economy, it is important to start with what Governor Perry has not done. He has not micro-managed the Texan economy with a heavy hand. During his ten years in office, Gov. Perry has instead encouraged and protected the pro-growth and small-government policies and attitudes that are widely considered to have caused the record boom in the state’s population, not to mention a remarkably quick recovery from the recession that the rest of of the country seems to be still mired in. The Texas state budget is projected to have a surplus next year, thanks largely to increased sales tax and energy revenue (Texas has no state income tax); and has largely gotten back the jobs lost in the recession. Whether or not you credit the governor for the situation, consider this: Rick Perry’s political experience has been in an arena where not interfering in the economy for the sake of interfering has been shown to work. This is a valuable trait all in its own.

And the Texas jobs record is impressive, swimming upstream against a nation where Washington has hemorrhaged money on shovel-ready rhetoric while the economy burns.