News Center

June 22nd, 2011

The Vetting of Rick Perry

By Craig Robinson

The news media seems to have an obsession with anyone who is rumored to be running for president.  However, once a person declares that they are officially a candidate or decides not to run, the media suddenly loses interest.  It’s a difficult environment for those who are going through the slog of actually being a candidate.  Dialing for dollars, making four or five campaign stops per day, and having everything you say and wear be scrutinized by the media is not as glamorous as running for president might otherwise sound.

The media’s zeal for those who are contemplating making a run isn’t all that glamorous either.  After a few short days of speculation about who’s talking to who, the media begins scour the web to find any negative thing that anyone has ever said about the potential candidate.  Respected news outlets have even shown that they are willing to publish previously debunked rumors.  Unfortunately, while the media dredges up anything they can find on a potential candidate, they often avoid examining the records and statements of the candidates who are already actually seeking the Republican nomination.

The latest flavor of the month is Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Political pundits, bloggers, and members of the traditional media have every right to put Perry’s record under the microscope.  In recent weeks Perry hasn’t tried to keep his presidential aspirations a secret.  He made a cameo appearance on Glenn Beck’s TV show, he gave a barnburner of a speech at the Republican Leadership Conference last weekend, and his advisors admitted that they have reached out to people in Iowa to see if he could win Iowa despite getting into the race late.

The media, the electorate, and the current field of Republican candidates should take Perry seriously.  He’s a conservative governor from a big red state, something that many conservatives believe has been missing from the current field. Governors from blue states govern as blue governors, as is evidenced by their records.  Besides Huntsman, who hails from a red state but is supportive of gay marriage, the other two governors in the field have accepted the myth of global warming and either advocated for carbon taxes, universal health care, or both.

Perry has governed very differently. In fact, many conservatives should look to what he’s done in Texas as a roadmap to what should be done in Washington, D.C.

He’s created a business climate in Texas that has helped create more jobs than any other state in the union, year after year.

He muscled through tort reform. Texas faces, as do many other rural states, a shortage of doctors, and putting in place a mechanism to limit frivolous lawsuits where the “loser pays” brings certainty to their practices, reduces defensive medicine, and allows the doctor to treat the patient.

He has cut spending and closed a huge budget gap. In fact, rather than access the State’s “rainy day fund,” he forced huge spending cuts. Not everyone agrees with his approach, but it’s the same approach we see being used by Republican governors and Republican legislators all across the nation.

Texas is home to many military bases. Perry has been very supportive of the military, traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly.  Besides Ron Paul, he would be the only candidate who has actually served in the military, having been an Air Force pilot. With the Administration bogging us down in yet another war in the Middle East, it would be nice to have a Commander in Chief who knew something about the military.

Perry is articulate, but even more importantly, he doesn’t back down when he faces opposition. He knows what he stands, for and he fights for his beliefs. He doesn’t care if he’s not everyone’s first choice for a “beer summit.”

He’s been the head of the RGA twice, which gives him the ability to raise a lot of money fast. For his 2010 race, he raised more than $40 million.  If Perry is able to outpace Mitt Romney in the fundraising department, Romney’s days as the frontrunner are over, and his New Hampshire strategy will be rendered obsolete.

He’s a deeply vetted candidate who has won several high profile and expensive races in Texas.

He understands agriculture; he is a farmer and was Ag Commissioner prior to becoming Lt. Governor of Texas.

Like everybody else, Perry has numerous strengths as a candidate, but he also has some weaknesses. Some disagree with Perry’s stance on a couple of issues. His critics in Texas point to two issues that they disagreed with him on. First was the idea of the “Trans-Texas Corridor.” Perry introduced the Trans-Texas Corridor concept in 2003, calling for a network of broad corridors linking major cities, with toll roads for cars and trucks, tracks for freight and passenger rail, and space for pipelines and power lines.

The $175 billion, 4,000-mile network was needed, he said at the time, to accommodate rapid growth of the state’s population and the expected increase in truck traffic following passage of the NAFTA. The Texas Farm Bureau and others opposed the idea, indicating it would take too much private farmland; other groups opposed it as well, given the sheer magnitude of the series of projects and the potential costs involved.  Perry has stated that the issue, and the concept, has been dead for years and will not be pursued. It is worth noting that Texas has some of the strongest property rights laws in the nation, and Perry is generally a vocal advocate of private property rights.

The second issue Perry critics cite was his executive order to immunize sixth grade girls against the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer. Perry, an outspoken social conservative, surprised even his own party members with the order. However, he did allow an “opt-out” provision for those parents who did not want their daughters immunized.

Six weeks after Perry put pen to paper, the Texas House on March 14, 2007, passed HB 1098, overturning his executive order by a vote of 119-21. The Senate followed suit the following month by a vote of 30-1. Realizing both chambers had large enough majorities to override a veto, Perry opted to let the bill become law without his signature. On May 8, the day the law went into effect, Perry held a press conference surrounded by women touched by cervical cancer. He bemoaned the tenor of a debate that he asserted had been “hijacked by politics and posturing.”

Gov. Perry indicated he viewed the issue as one of protecting life, and he said that his “opt out” provision allowed parents who objected to remain in control of the health care decisions of their children.

I just wish that the news media would be as thorough in vetting the current field of candidates as they have been with those who are still mulling over their decision to get into the race.  What a novel concept.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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