Take our 39% Governor .... Please!
Sept. 12, 2007
By PEGGY FIKAC
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — He skipped Texas' GOP straw poll, but Gov. Rick Perry delivered a red-meat speech at the California Republican Party convention scoffing at Al Gore over global warming and taking on Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons.
"I've heard Al Gore talk about man-made global warming so much that I'm starting to think that his mouth is the leading source of all that supposedly deadly carbon dioxide," Perry said in last Friday's prepared speech, a week after the presidential straw poll in Fort Worth.
"Let's make sure the Nancy Pelosi speakership is just an asterisk in the history of our country."
Hillary Clinton's effort to follow her husband as president?
"We must move heaven and earth to make sure we never see another Clinton in the White House."
California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged a centrist approach?
"California is too important ... to allow a bankrupt, liberal political philosophy to dominate the direction of this state."
Perry promised more of the same in 2008.
"I may not be on the ballot, but I will campaign next year like I am, in Texas, in California, and anywhere else I can spread the word," he said in his speech.
If that holds true, it will be an unusually active national schedule for the GOP governor, said Ray Sullivan, who once worked for him and is close to the Perry camp.
"If he does indeed fan out across the country giving similar speeches, I believe that will be a bigger, newer role for him nationally," said Sullivan, a lobbyist.
Perry spokesman Robert Black said more national travel is expected, but presidential campaigning will depend on what Perry is asked to do by the nominee.
Black noted this will be a presidential election without a Bush on the GOP presidential ballot, and that Texas being "a bit more in play than in previous elections" makes a difference in Perry's plans.
Perry also has a prominent role in the Republican Governors Association and will work to help elect other GOP governors, Black added. Perry is the RGA's chief fundraiser and is rumored to be in line to be chairman. He was raising money in California for the group last week.
As for the Texas straw poll, Black said Perry had a scheduling conflict and sent a video. (High-profile presidential candidates also missed the event.)
Ron Nehring, California Republican Party chairman, said Perry was invited to the convention with several other governors and got a "tremendous" reception, an opinion echoed in news accounts that said Perry's conservative message got a far more enthusiastic response than Schwarzenegger's speech.
Some have suggested Perry might be a possible vice presidential contender. Others call that an impossibility, partly because of the unpopularity of President Bush, who preceded Perry as governor, and because Perry was most recently re-elected with less than a majority vote in a crowded field.
Political science professor Samuel Popkin of the University of California at San Diego, who has advised Democratic campaigns, including Gore's in 2000, said the GOP nominee may be more likely to choose a running mate from a more worrisome state like Florida or Ohio.
"Being cheered by the faithful doesn't mean they think you're electable," Popkin said.
Political scientist Bruce Buchanan of the University of Texas at Austin said he thinks Perry is working to build his national profile.
"I think he does want to have a profile that could lead him to some higher office at some point," Buchanan said. But he added, "Right at the moment, Texas is kind of radioactive."
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