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December 04, 2013 1:31 PM The Awful Specter of Perry ‘16

By Ed Kilgore

It’s been apparent for a good while (certainly after he decided not to run for another term as governor) that Rick Perry’s planning another presidential run. At the Daily Beast today, David Catanese confirms this bad news, and discusses why it may not be the best idea.

But Catanese and the political hands he quotes seem to have a bit of amnesia about why Perry’s 2012 originally formidable campaign ran aground, emphasizing his debate gaffes—particularly the “oops moment” (when he couldn’t remember the list of federal agencies he was promising to shut down)—to the exclusion of all other factors.

Actually, Perry’s original “oops moment” was ideological, not stylistic, when he defended his advocacy of a state version of the Dream Act and suggested his critics were lacking in compassion. Mitt Romney ruthlessly exploited this ideological heresy, and partially burst Perry’s balloon before the Texan deflated it entirely with his debate problems. And even the better known “oops moment” was partially ideological: authentic anti-government zealots don’t have any trouble remembering the agencies and programs they want to kill.

So I can see how Perry might think another run might be successful if he strictly avoids straying from the “true conservative” line this time around. Yes, his own state’s Ted Cruz is an immediate and potentially fatal obstacle, but I can see how he might size up the junior senator as the kind of guy who might self-destruct along the way. And Perry probably figures the intense anti-Washington sentiment in the party and the country will give him a thumb on the scale if the primary-within-the-primary—-the competition for True Conservative Champion—comes down to him versus Cruz and Rand Paul. For that matter, his eagerness to sell out his state to “job creators” might make him preferable even to the union-busting Scott Walker among the ranks of those most focused on destroying regulatory and tax barriers to untrammeled cowboy capitalism.

Perry’s real ace in the hole is his intense relationship with the Christian Right and its various Texas-based strongholds. So I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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