(Here's a diary from someone who will likely be joining our staff soon, Ben Sherman. He's going to help me track Rick Perry in the coming weeks/months. You're gonna love him. :) - promoted by Phillip Martin)
The "Perry for President" rumors are hitting a fever pitch, but they've been around for more than two years. Let's trace the history of this unfortunate rumor that would be an even more unfortunate reality.
In April 2009 at a Tea Party rally, Perry threatened that Texas could secede from the United States if it wanted to. Since then, Perry has established a firm reputation with the media as an "anti-Obama" who might run in 2012. Alongside stories about Texas' unusually-strong economy, journalists found a natural logic in a Perry presidential run. At the beginning of last year, Texas Monthly ran a feature on Perry's sense of political timing which all but predicted a 2012 run. Newsweek soon followed with a front cover story about Perry's loud rhetoric against Obama, noting that Perry "clearly sees himself as a national politician".
As the days have passed in President Obama's term, Perry's rhetoric has heated up. Last fall, Perry claimed Obama is "hell-bent on socialism." Perry has showed his infatuation with national media through frequent appearances on conservative television and radio shows. In November of last year, Perry's rhetorical tirade against central government, "Fed Up!" was released, inducing a whole new bout of presidential rumors. While on a New York media tour, he shot them all down.
For the past three weeks, as the media chattered about a weak GOP field, the Perry for President rumors have returned with new energy. Two weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh endorsed Perry, saying that "he has the potential to light this up". Last week, Laura Ingraham claimed she'd been told by a Perry confidante that he's running in 2012. The national political blogs fanned these rumors alongside stories about possible late entries into the GOP field. Perry and his advisers continued to claim that Perry had no intention to run for president.
On Friday, Perry told Capitol reporters that he was going to "think about" jumping into the race.
We've always known Perry loves the attention of the national media. What is unclear is whether he's interested in anything more than his larger-than-life image as Governor of Texas.
Now, Perry needs to decide for himself. Just as he prepares to sign off on the most vicious budget cuts that Texas has ever seen, the chattering class is talking about a Perry-sized hole in the Republican primary field.
Can he defend his real record in Texas against a field of vicious big-name Republicans? How will he defend using President Obama's stimulus money to a GOP base that looks increasingly like a Tea Party rally? How will hold up once his multiple public corruption scandals hit the national stage?
Governor Good Hair better do the most serious thinking of his public life before deciding whether to jump in.