This article is part of a new series called White House Wednesday, by the staff of The World and Everything in It, looking at potential 2016 candidates for president.
The crisis at the nation’s southern border could give Rick Perry the foundation he needs to launch a second presidential campaign. In 2012, Perry’s strong jobs record helped him start a strong campaign with immediate impact. Just one month after announcing his candidacy, a Gallup poll showed Perry atop the GOP field, leading the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, by seven points.
But then, after the big splash, the Perry campaign took on water and started to sink. In a September 2011 debate, Perry took a jab at critics of a Texas law that grants reduced in-state tuition rates to children in the country illegally.
“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” he said. That remark cost him dearly in conservative primaries.
Then, in another GOP debate two months later, he couldn’t remember which government agency he promised to eliminate: “The third agency of government I would do away with [is] the education, the commerce, and let’s see. I can’t. The third one I can’t. Oops.”
Perry is not seeking a fifth term as governor, and many believe he’s ready to try once more for the White House. He has dropped plenty of clues hinting he might run. In a March appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Perry said about a possible 2016 campaign, “You know, America is a great place for second chances. We’ll just leave it at that.”
The border crisis has brought him back into the national spotlight.As an executive, the crisis gives Perry an opportunity to lead. In the eyes of many, he is showing more leadership on the issue than the president. He has visited detention facilities to see first hand the humanitarian impact of the crisis, but also is addressing the national security implications. He isexpressing compassion, but he also says this crisis is pulling the border patrol away from their regular patrols. And Perry claims that since 2008, more than 200,000 illegal immigrants have been booked into Texas county jails.
Most of the public agrees the border surge has been bad PR for President Barack Obama. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said he worried this could be Obama’s “Katrina moment.” Perry accused the White House of ignoring requests to send the National Guard to the border. So he announced he would do it himself.
“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor. We are too good a country for that to occur. That is why today I am using my executive authority as governor of Texas and activating the National Guard,” Perry said.
All the other factors thatshould have made Perry strong in 2012 are still present. Over the past decade, almost one-third of all net new jobs created in the United States were created in Texas. Since Perry has been governor, Texas has led the United States in job growth at every pay level.
As with any governor, there is, of course, plenty of criticism, too. But he does have a record to run on. If he does run again, he’ll have to prove, this time, that he can effectively sell himself and his record on the national stage.
Listen to Kent Covington and Nick Eicher discuss Rick Perry’s presidential prospects on The World and Everything in It