Thursday, October 18, 2007

"The nation is tired of Texans, period."

Perry's VP chances could ride on Giuliani

Governor endorses Republican presidential candidate

Oct. 18, 2007

Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Copyright 2007

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry's endorsement Wednesday of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination sparked renewed speculation that Perry is seeking a spot on the ticket as a vice-presidential candidate.

"I would say that Gov. Perry is at the top of everyone's list, my own and any other Republican nominee," Giuliani said in a conference call with reporters. "He's governor of one of our largest states. He's a very successful governor."

When asked about the speculation, Perry was quick to say, "I won't consider that." But he also declined to say whether that meant he would turn down a vice-presidential slot on the ticket if it is offered.

"I have a really, really good job. I love my job. As a matter of fact, I just had to move out of the mansion, and I'm not looking for another move," said Perry, referring to the remodeling of the Governor's Mansion.

Perry's endorsement of Giuliani was unusual because the conservative governor differs with Giuliani on numerous issues, including Perry's opposition to abortion and support for gun rights.

Perry downplayed their differences on abortion, saying Giuliani would appoint "strict constructionists" to the U.S. Supreme Court who would have an impact on limiting abortions.

Perry said a presidency under Democrat Hillary Clinton would lead to court appointments "that would cause people to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night."

Perry also said Giuliani understands there are differences on what kind of firearm limits might work in New York and not work in Texas or other places.

Perry made it clear that one of his biggest reasons for backing Giuliani is a belief that he can win the presidency.

"The mayor knows how to lead. He knows how to get results, and he knows how to win," Perry said.

But the endorsement definitely represents a case of politics making for strange bedfellows.

Giuliani is taking support from a governor who was re-elected with 39 percent of the vote and has lost support among his Republican base over the past year. Conservative Perry is signing on with the most moderate candidate in the Republican field.

'Tired of Texans'

"Texans supporting the mayor of New York City? Get a rope," joked Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is backing Republican Fred Thompson for president.

Thompson this week announced Patterson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott as his state chairs.

"As far as helping Rudy carry Texas in the primary, this is of no impact. The governor is an unpopular governor," Patterson said, noting that Perry has been in office since 2000, "wearing out his welcome."

Patterson said he could see why Giuliani might want Perry on the ticket with him, though. He said Perry's conservative image would help Giuliani in the South and West. Patterson said he thought Perry would hurt Giuliani in the rest of the country.

"The nation is tired of Texans, period. It makes no difference who it is," Patterson said.

John Weaver, a GOP consultant who was a key consultant on Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign until earlier this year, said the endorsement will be a great boost nationally for both Perry and Giuliani.

Weaver said Perry's endorsement gives "air cover" to other conservatives who might want to throw their support behind Giuliani for president: "Rick becomes a validation for other conservatives."

For Perry, joining Giuliani's campaign will give the governor the opportunity to become a major national surrogate speaker, Weaver said. He noted that Perry is about to ascend to a leadership role in the Republican Governors Association.

"It gives you another vehicle other than the Republican Governors Association to get out and about outside the borders of Texas," Weaver said.

Weaver said the early presidential primaries make it unlikely the nomination battle will still be alive when Texans vote March 4. He said the nomination likely will be all but settled in multistate voting Feb. 5.

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative political organization, said she is "disappointed" that Perry would endorse a candidate who is as moderate as Giuliani.

'The rest of the story'

Adams said that is especially true after Perry last month told California Republicans to shun candidates who don't adhere to the party's principles, including opposition to abortion.

"He (Perry) was throwing them red meat," Adams said. "But they don't know the rest of the story."

Republican consultant Mark Sanders worked for Democrat Tony Sanchez against Perry in the 2002 election and for independent Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn in 2006. He said Perry's 39 percent victory in 2006 will keep him off any Republican presidential ticket.

"I don't know of anybody in the presidential field who is seriously considering Rick Perry as a vice-presidential candidate," Sanders said. "He doesn't bring much to the table."

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