Friday, November 2, 2012
Christie and Perry in 2016 | Casey's Last Word
Much has been made this week of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s effusive praise – day after day and on every network, including Fox – of President Obama’s leadership in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Christie has been one of Mitt Romney’s most effective surrogates, up until now.
His enthusiastic gratitude to the President has more than a few conspiracy theorists suggesting that Christie doesn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Although national polls show the presidential race to be neck and neck, Obama has stubbornly held on to leads in many of the swing states, albeit thin leads in some.
If Romney should lose, say conspiratorialists, guess who is immediately on the short list for the Republican nomination in 2016?
That’s right, the very popular straight-shooting governor of New Jersey - who may have just added a few gusts of his own substantial wind to the political gales.
But thanks to the Dallas Morning News, we learn that Christie may not be the only one who has begun the maneuvers for 2016.
Our own governor Rick Perry was in, of all places, Iowa last Saturday night.
He was the keynote speaker before about 600 evangelical activists in the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, part of a national group headed by former Moral Majority leader Ralph Reed.
Reed also spoke at the dinner.
For the record, Perry says he was there as part of a tour for the Romney/Ryan campaign team, and he did talk up Romney/Ryan while blasting Obama for his handling of the economy and the national debt.
Perry also warned that, in his words, "There is a war being waged against people of faith.”
It was red meat for the evangelicals who just happen to be in a state that wields wildly disproportional influence in presidential races as the state that kicks off the national selection process with its January caucuses.
Not surprisingly, Perry was asked about his presidential ambitions by a writer for a statewide Republican newspaper.
The governor said he was too busy to think about the prospect, and wouldn’t even announce whether he would seek re-election for governor in 2014 until June, after the legislative session.
But he did say he had learned two lessons from last year’s race.
The first was that he got in too late.
The other was that “you shouldn’t have major back surgery 10 days before you begin your campaign.”
According to the Dallas Morning News, another Perry presidential candidacy was promoted by a prominent Iowa evangelical politician, Bob Vander Plaats.
He heads a Christian family organization, has several times run for governor, was chairman of Mike Huckabee’s campaign in Iowa, and led the successful effort to turn out of office three state Supreme Court justices who overturned a law banning gay marriage.
In addition to the problems of late entry and recent back surgery, Vander Plaats said Perry suffered from entering the race as a front runner.
“If he misspoke, it went everywhere. So he didn’t have a chance to get his sea legs,” Vandere Plaats said.
“For Gov. Perry, he just jumped into the deep end of the pool, right away. So he had a lot of things stacked against him. But the people of Iowa, they respect Texas and they love Gov. Perry. So if he were to make another run, he’d be a very formidable candidate.”
When Texas Democrats next Friday celebrate the first anniversary of the “oops” heard 'round the world, I suspect many will quietly pray, “From your lips to God’s ear.”
Perry has, by his own timetable, two years and many bridges to cross before he decides whether to run for president again.
But if he does and if Chris Christie also does, we can say the race really began on a week in 2012 when Perry was in Iowa blasting Obama and Christie was all over TV praising him.