Opinion: Rick Perry: Would Obama stand a chance against the Texas governor?

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President Obama wouldn’t stand a chance if Texas Gov. Rick Perry were to win the Republican nomination. That’s Merrill Matthews’ theory anyway. On the conservative website Human Events, he compares Obama to Perry in terms we can all understand.

To use a football analogy -- I mean, we’re talking about Texas -- it’s not who hands you the football and it’s not where the ball is handed to you, it’s what you do with the ball after you have it.Rick Perry took the ball from Bush and scored an economic touchdown for Texas. Obama took the ball from Bush and fumbled it -- repeatedly -- giving the other team a chance to score a touchdown.Which brings us to the Obama vs. Perry records on the economy. What has happened to some of the key indicators of economic well-being since Obama has been in charge (roughly January of 2009 to June 2011)?


Matthews continues by highlighting some of Obama’s most significant fumbles:

Energy: Gasoline was $1.67 a gallon then. It’s now $3.79.Food: Average cost of a gallon of milk was about $2.65. It’s about $3.50 today.Housing: The median cost of a home was $229,600. Today it’s $217,900.Budget deficit: We fell $438 billion short of balancing the federal budget in 2008. We missed it by $1.4 trillion this year -- nearly four times higher.U.S. debt: Total federal debt was $10.7 trillion then. It’s $14.5 trillion now -- nearly 50% higher.Unemployment: Then, 7.3% of Americans were unemployed and 9.1% are unemployed today.

Of course, it’s impossible to judge Obama’s job performance in such simplistic terms. The fact is that he inherited trillions in debt thanks to former President George W. Bush. But Perry is no Bush -- and creating that distinction has Daily Kos thinking that Perry has already devised his platform. Interpreting this New York Times article, Laurence Lewis writes:

Sounds like a platform: Bush was too liberal, too bipartisan, and too nice. Have fun with that, Governor. Have fun with that, Republicans.

Lewis snarks, but our Washington columnist Doyle McManus thinks Perry has a shot, ‘casting himself as a conservative for all seasons -- a Texas governor who can appeal to both the Romney and Bachmann wings of the party.’

The Christian right couldn’t agree more, and they’re making a play for Perry. From the Week:

The Texas governor has one thing going for him that Bachmann and Santorum don’t: ‘Geography,’ says Grace Wyler at the Business Insider. ‘Many Christian right leaders believe the Republican primary schedule lends itself to a Southern candidate,’ which rules out Bachmann and fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty ‘despite their Christian conservative bona fides.’ With former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee ruling out a run, and the campaign of Georgia’s Newt Gingrich imploding, ‘by default, Perry is the best match for the Christian right.’


And, while it’s true, as the Week also points out, that Perry might alienate some libertarian members of the ‘tea party,’ thereby risking that influential voting bloc, he does have an X factor with an even broader appeal: Successful governing experience. From Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin:

We don’t know whether Rick Perry will decide to run for president. Nor do we know how he will fare on the campaign trail in states where governors in cowboy boots may not impress voters, especially only four years after the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. Yet, as this Times article demonstrates, there’s no doubt Perry brings more to the table in terms of successful governing experience than anyone else seeking to challenge Obama.

Although some of our readers may challenge that definition of ‘successful.’


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McManus: For the GOP, it’s Romney, Bachmann and, maybe, Perry

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Rick Perry-for-president buttons at the Republican Leadership Conference in June in New Orleans. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images