In speeches to Republicans in New York and New Orleans last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry repeatedly emphasised his tough-guy conservatism, both fiscal and social.A Perry campaign would promise do for the country what he’s done for Texas the last 11 years.
But no politician is one-dimensional. Perry’s route to his present political posture has been erratic, to say the least.
Here’s a look at the colourful past of the man who might be the GOP nominee.
Perry once said it might not be such a bad idea for Texas to secede from the union. Later, facing a media uproar, he said it again.
'There's a lot of different scenarios,' Perry told a Tea Party gathering on Tax Day 2009. 'We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.'
The next month, appearing on Fox News, Perry told Neal Cavuto: 'If Washington continues to force these programs on the states, if Washington continues to disregard the tenth amendment, who knows what happens.'
In his 2010 book Fed Up!, Perry says he would abolish the income tax and direct election of senators.
He called the 16th and 17th amendments, which govern these laws, 'mistaken,' the result of 'a fit of populist rage.'
Before the 17th amendment was ratified in 1913, state legislatures were responsible for selecting who to send to the United States Senate. The income tax accounts for nearly half of the federal government's revenue.
Perry proposed a north-south highway that some see as a nefarious plot to merge the US, Canada, and Mexico
In his second term as governor, Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a highway that would run north-south from Canada to Mexico.
Many conspiracy theorists cited this as the first step in a nefarious plot to merge the U.S., Canada, and Mexico into one North American Union. (And that, in turn, would supposedly lead to world government.)
To make matters worse, Perry attended the Bilderberg Conference in Turkey in 2007. Perry's potential future GOP primary rival Ron Paul said at the time that the governor's participation in the conference was 'a sign that he's involved in the international conspiracy.'
Perry has been governor of Texas since December 2000, when George W. Bush resigned the governorship to become president. Perry became lieutenant governor in 1998 after winning a close race to replace his Democratic predecessor.
Relations between Perry and Bush were tepid and grew frostier over time.
When he ran for a third term in 2010 against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, almost every member of the Bush family and circle endorsed his opponent: George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove.
The sole exception was George W. Bush, who remained neutral. Perry repaid that neutrality by criticising his predecessor sharply, saying Bush 'has never, ever been a fiscal conservative,' and calling the Bush circle 'country-club Republicans.'
It's rarely discussed these days that Rick Perry was a Democratic elected official before he turned Republican. Perry won his first election to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984 as a Democrat.
In 1988, Perry served as campaign chairman when Al Gore sought the Democratic presidential nomination.
He changed parties in 1989 so he could challenge the Democratic state agricultural commissioner for re-election.
In 2009, Perry said of Gore: 'I think he's gone to hell.'
A new poll shows that only 9% of Texans says they would support a Perry run for the presidency.
Moreover, despite his nationwide touting of Texas' economic weatherproofing and comparative health, the state has struggled to close a budget shortfall as high as $17 billion.
Especially since he's not yet in the running, Democrats are unsure what to think. While some fear the prospect of his candidacy, others think he might be easy to beat.
'He talks a lot and he's not very bright,' James Carville said on CNN today. 'And that's a combination I like in Republicans.'
In 2007, Perry alienated most of the Texas Republican Party, and social conservatives around the country, by issuing an executive order mandating that all sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus.
Conservatives complained that his order was a drastic overreach, probably unconstitutional, and encouraged teenage sex.
Perry strongly opposed the United States Supreme Court's decision to strike down Texas' anti-sodomy laws in 2003.
At the time, he called the law 'appropriate.'
In his 2010 book, Fed Up!, Perry ridiculed the decision handed down by 'nine oligarchs in robes.' Though the state stopped enforcing the law after the court decision, it remains on the books.
Perry allowed death row prisoner Cameron Todd Willingham to be executed in 2004 for arson and the murder of three small children even after evidence emerged suggesting the deadly fire might not have been caused by arson.
Five years later, an investigator determined conclusively that Willingham was innocent, and sought to present his findings to the Texas Forensic Science Commission.
Politico reported Tuesday that Perry's team, should he decide to run for president, is prepared to counter 'crusted-over rumours' that the governor and his wife separated years ago because Perry is gay.
While Politico's article was purportedly about the fact that these rumours might come up in a couple months, it actually served the purpose of raising them sooner than expected.
The article says that many news outlets have attempted investigations to verify the rumours, all to no avail. The allegations first arose in 2004.
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