Throughout the 2011 presidential campaign, Texas governor Rick Perry’s efforts have been fraught with controversy. From shady campaign donations and pension payments to his stances on immigration and the death penalty, Perry’s tenure as governor during his campaign year has not made him many friends. What’s more, his often poor performance during his debates and advertisements have made him the subject of ridicule by many in the media. In this paper, many of these aspects of his campaign and his run as governor will be examined.
In terms of campaign contributions, Perry managed to gain most of his substantial campaign finances from his home state of Texas, raking in nearly $10 million from that state alone. In a mere two months, Perry raised more money than the other Republican candidates with $17.2 million in his budget by September (Murphy, 2011). However, there have been more questions raised about Perry’s personal income that have demonstrated a lack of prudency and business ethics. In January 2011, Rick Perry effectively retired, but it was found that he did so to take advantage of a loophole that grants him the ability to earn a regular paycheck while still collecting his pension, dramatically raising his income (Root, “Perry Retires”). While this maneuver is completely legal and legitimate, it raises ethical questions, as well as issues of hypocrisy given his targeting of entitlement programs and government-required health care.
On the immigration issue, Perry has shown himself to be a staunch conservative, collecting endorsements from people on the stricter side of the border patrol issue. This includes controversial individuals like Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose policies and tactics have been shown to unilaterally demonstrate racial profiling of Latinos (Guerra, 2011). By endorsing Perry, he helped to diminish Perry’s campaign and integrity in many respects due to his disreputable
nature. Some of his more confusing policies have been met with derision by his conservative base as well: Perry’s policy that undocumented immigrants have access to instate tuition rates for college was met with severe scrutiny. This has had the effect of tearing him away from his conservative base, while his other conservative talking points have kept him away from many liberal affiliations (Hamilton, 2011).
The death penalty, and Rick Perry’s support of it in Texas, has been a major issue for his campaign and his governorship. Rick Perry has presided over more than 200 executions, more than any governor of recent years. What’s more, most of his 31 commutations from death row happened due to new Supreme Court rulings that minors could not be capitally punished. However, questions over several Texas death row cases and their validity have thrown Rick Perry’s support of the death penalty into question. His seeming reluctance to grant clemency for cases that have insufficient evidence has been also viewed as somewhat inhumane and imprudent (Grissom, 2011).
One of the hallmarks of Rick Perry’s presidential campaign has been his unfortunate performance in polls and debates – however, this has been reflected in many polls, nearly half of whom believe he is not doing as well as they thought he would (Ramsey, “Presidential Report Card). In one recent political debate, Rick Perry faced a particular gaffe when he stumbled out “oops” after completely forgetting a talking point regarding which federal agencies he would abolish, freezing for an entire minute (Ramsey, “Perry’s Gaffe-Prone”). This inability to articulate his talking points has led to an increasing lack of faith in his ability to lead and communicate his issues properly.
Most recently, Rick Perry’s campaign prospects have been considered somewhat dubious, particularly during the Iowa caucuses. During the last day in his campaign trail through Iowa, Perry began to hurl insults at his fellow candidates, as well as President Barack Obama (Root, “Perry Blasts Rivals”). This, in addition to his previous debate performance, have earned him substantial criticism for focusing on the other candidates’ issues and not his own. At the same time he has been praised for the same performance in Iowa, by differentiating himself from the other GOP candidates and demonstrating a greater command of language and debate (Smith, 2012). Despite the mixed feelings regarding his efforts on the Iowa campaign trail, Perry ended up trailing behind in the pools, rating fourth with even lower expectations by the end of the caucus (Philpott, 2011).
Overall, Rick Perry’s presidential campaign has been considered a failure. At the beginning of 2011, he was thought to be at the height of his power in terms of politics, building on his conservative constituent base to deliver right-leaning campaign promises. However, by the end of the year, he has revealed himself by many to be a poor debater and one who is, for the most part, unwilling or unable to properly communicate his issues. His performance in his debates and different political appearances has been criticized as being poor, his political career to date being chalked up to “luck” (Ramsey, “Rick Perry’s Political Fortunes”).
Grissom, Brandi. “Under Perry, Executions Raise Question.” The Texas Tribune Perrypedia,
Sept. 2, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-people/rick-perry/under-perry- executions-raise-questions/>.
Guerra, Danny. “DOJ: “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Violated Civil Rights.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia, Dec. 15, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/immigration-in- texas/immigration/americas-toughest-sheriff-violated-civil-rights/>.
Hamilton, Reeve. “Perry Revisits Undocumented Students’ In-State Tuition.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia. Dec. 19, 2011. Web. <http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012- presidential-election/perry-revisits-undocumented-students-state-tuition/>.
Murphy, Ryan. “Visualization: Perry in the Third Quarter.” The Texas Tribune Perrypedia. Oct.
17, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/perry-performance-third- quarter/>.
Philpott, Ben. “Texas GOP Candidates Make Final Statements in Iowa.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia. Dec. 16, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012- presidential-election/texas-gop-candidates-make-final-statements-iowa/>.
Ramsey, Ross. “Inside Intelligence: Presidential Report Card.” The Texas Tribune Perrypedia,
Oct. 20, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-polling/inside- intelligence/inside-intelligence-presidential-report-card/>.
Ramsey, Ross. “Perry’s Gaffe-Prone Campaign Isn’t Ready for Prime Time.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia, November 11, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas- politics/2012-presidential-election/rick-perry-and-peter-principle/>.
Ramsey, Ross. “Rick Perry’s Political Fortunes Fell in 2011.” The Texas Tribune Perrypedia.
Dec. 30, 2011. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-people/rick-perry/rick-perrys- political-fortunes-fell-2011/>.
Root, Jay. “Perry Blasts Rivals as ‘Corrupt’ on Eve of Iowa Vote.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia, Jan. 2, 2012. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012- presidential-election/perry-blasts-rivals-corrupt-eve-iowa-vote/>.
Root, Jay. “Perry ‘Retires’ to Boost Pension Pay.” The Texas Tribune Perrypedia. Dec. 16, 2011.
Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-presidential-election/perry- retires-boost-pension-pay/>.
Smith, Morgan. “Perry Hits His Stride in Iowa, But May Be Too Late.” The Texas Tribune
Perrypedia. Jan. 2, 2012. Web. < http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012- presidential-election/perry-hits-his-stride-maybe-too-late/>.