Politics

Taking a look at Gov. Perry's pitfalls

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Already sounding like a presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry is preparing for some significant travel this weekend with a big announcement expected Saturday. But opponents aren't waiting for him to officially jump into the presidential race to go on the attack.

The trash talk has already started. Rick Santorum called Perry's position on gay marriage inconsistent. Mitt Romney said Perry can't even beat President Barack Obama in Texas. And Michelle Bachmann's campaign manager said Perry ought to stay in Texas.

We take a look at the pitfalls in Gov. Perry's record -- not to bash the governor -- but to give us all a look at what his opponents are likely to throw at him soon.

In Texas, we like to think we know Rick Perry. He's been our governor for 10 years. But somewhere between the time when he took over from former President George W. Bush in 2000 and that day in May when Gov. Perry said he was thinking about running for president, there were a few things he might want to keep secret -- maybe none more so than his thoughts on seceding from the United States.

It was right after a Tea Party rally on Tax Day 2009. He never said Texas should secede, but did say it was an option.

"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," Perry said at the time.

"That the governor would be running for president -- my question is president of what country?" said Austin-area Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

He's a longtime Perry critic and he is promising to tell America about the underside of Perry's Texas record, including calling Perry out on his use of stimulus dollars.

"This is the governor who wrote a not very best-seller called Fed Up,' but relied on every federal dollar he could get to balance his budget," Rep. Doggett said.

As Texas law requires, Perry has signed balanced budgets as governor, making what he admits are tough cuts to education and health care in the process, all the while saying Washington should cut spending like Texas does.

But in the 2009 legislative session, Perry and Texas took $12 billion in stimulus dollars to balance the books -- an issue Perry had to defend in his last campaign.

"Using the federal stimulus money -- while the governor was politicking against the stimulus -- for recurring expenses was the wrong thing to do," said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in January 2010.

At the time, Perry blasted the stimulus saying there were likely better ways to stimulate the economy. But there's some history to suggest Perry wasn't always opposed to federal spending -- so long as it helps us.

Perry said the following back in 2000 just after President Bush was elected.

"Having a Texan sitting in the White House who understands instinctively the needs of this state... that could be very beneficial. Hopefully we can have a strategic plan in place to take advantage of this opportunity," said Perry on December 20, 2000.

Finally expect this to come up too -- Perry's 2007 decision to order all Texas 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. A vaccine whose only manufacturer was, by the way, represented by a former Perry aide.

"Not only was it a bad decision if you are a social conservative, it was a decision that benefited a lobbyist who is an extremely close friend of the governor," said Craig McDonald with Texans for Public Justice.

Perry said he included an opt-out in his 2007 vaccine order.

One last lingering Texas issue for the conservative Perry is that now-dead TransTexas Corridor. It was going to be a toll road right through the heart of Texas. But crumbled under conservative opposition to the government seizing so much land using eminent domain.

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rick perry, politics, ted oberg
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