(Photo: Reuters / Lee Celano)
Republican presidential hopefuls have declared their intentions to run at a steady pace for the past month, but conservative Republicans are still looking at Texas Governor Rick Perry’s daily itinerary to see if he’s crossing the state line at points leading to Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina.
It appears they’ve found what they are looking for – Governor Perry has scheduled a visit to Charleston, S.C., in mid-August to appear at an event hosted by RedState blog. It will be his first trip to an early primary state.
Sources close to Perry say his decision to enter the race may not be announced for several weeks, but analysts also agree that he needs to jump in sooner, rather than later.
Earlier this year, Perry took himself out of contention, yet the Governor of Texas continues to garner a good deal of media coverage – more than most announced candidates.
When speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference last February, he was acting more like a shy 3-year-old hiding behind his mother’s leg. Now, Perry seems to be enjoying his newfound national media exposure and is acting more like a child who’s already seen his share of talent shows.
One thing is for certain – social conservatives are watching his every move.
Perry’s accomplishments over the past few years are the envy of many governors. During his 10-year tenure as the state’s chief executive, Texas has attracted 48 percent of all new jobs nationwide, according to analysts at the Federal Reserve of Dallas. Such economic growth in recessionary times, due in part to the state’s low taxes and oil and agriculture success, provide easy talking points on the campaign trail.
While discussing his impressive record, Perry – like every other candidate – has his detractors and issues he must address.
As a “conservative” Democrat and prior to his switch to the Republican Party, Perry served as Al Gore’s state chairman during his 1988 failed presidential bid. That is also the year former President George H.W. Bush was elected.
Immigration is a hot-button issue in the Republican Party and opponents like fellow Texan Rep. Ron Paul will undoubtedly mention Perry’s support of the Texas DREAM Act he signed into law in 2001.
Conservative political blogger Kathleen McKinley, writing in her blog TexasSparkle on chron.com, said conservatives outside of Texas will want to question Perry’s support of children of illegal immigrants but they should not.
“It’s important to point out that there is a huge difference in the Texas Dream Act and The Dream Act that was pushed in Congress and failed. The Dream Act in Congress was full of all kinds of goodies other than allowing children of illegals to receive in state tuition,” wrote McKinley. “The Texas Dream Act was focused only on that. I happen to agree with the Texas Dream Act, and so did everyone in the Senate in Texas. It passed with ZERO ‘no’ votes. Add to that, it has proven to be successful.”
Supporters of Perry are also saying he’s received the okay of his most important supporter, his wife Anita. Second to her encouragement, Perry is also receiving a push from a member of his state’s congressional delegation.
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), wrote Perry a letter pledging his “full support” if the governor was to enter the race.
“After watching the [GOP primary debate last] Monday night, it was clear to me that we’re not anywhere close to deciding who the candidate is,” Marchant said to The Hill. “I just think this would be the time for him to make the move.”
“It was a number of conversations that were had with people I trust, including my wife, that basically said, ‘Listen, our country is in trouble and you need to give this a second thought,’” Perry told a gathering at the New York Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Dinner earlier this month.
Perry has recently gained attention for his upcoming “Day of Prayer.” Liberal clergy in Texas have criticized him for encouraging governors to attend the event, to be held in August.
In his speech to conservatives at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans last weekend, Perry said Republicans should stand proud and stop apologizing for their conservative values.