Rick Perry giving Republicans a headache

Rick Perry, the swaggering state governor of Texas, inspires a “touch of awe” amongst his opponents, says Ross Douthat in the International Herald Tribune. Over a political career spanning three decades, he hasn’t lost an election in ten tries. So if Mitt Romney or Barack Obama want to “snap his winning streak”, the 2012 presidential election will need to become a referendum on Perry himself and not on his home state, Texas. It created more jobs between January 2006 and January 2011 than all other US states combined.

It’s hard to imagine that American voters could return a Texan governor to the White House just four years after the “inglorious departure” of George W Bush, says Patrick Smyth in The Irish Times. But the “deeply conservative evangelical” had, within a few days, pushed himself firmly to the front of the race. One poll shows Perry leading among Republicans at 20% against Romney’s 18% and Michele Bachmann’s 13%. That’s because Perry is a “likeable, disciplined candidate and superb fundraiser with good political instincts”.

Yet many Republicans are “reaching for the Xanax”, says Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. Those who believe that calling Social Security “an illegal Ponzi scheme” and suggesting that Medicare is unconstitutional might not be the best way to win the senior vote for starters. Perry has some other “wild-eyed” views, set out in his 2010 book, Fed Up!, including that climate change is a “contrived phoney mess”. His “news-making forays” continue apace. Barely 48 hours into his campaign, he announced it would be “treasonous” for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to increase the money supply before the 2012 election. But if being at “the extreme end of the Republican party” makes Perry unelectable, where is the competition? A fortnight ago Republican luminaries were “scrambling to find new candidates”. They’re scrambling still.

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