Opinion: A Texas governor looking for a national profile


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One thing was clear when Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke to the California Republican Party’s convention in Indian Wells last weekend -- he wasn’t there to just bring tidings from Texas. Perry’s speech followed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s lecture that Republicans need to move closer to the political center or risk ceding political power to the more independent-friendly Democrats for election cycles to come.

But Perry would have none of that, and the different reactions each politician received were telling. Schwarzenegger got equal parts applause and stone faces. Perry had them jumping up from their seats as he mocked the Democrats and touched on all the classic conservative issues. Among the money lines: ‘California is too important ... to allow a bankrupt, liberal political philosophy to dominate the direction of this state.’


Clearly, this was a politician on a mission. The speech and a planned ambitious travel schedule through 2008 have spawned speculation that he’s a man running for the vice presidency -- envision ‘Giuliani/Perry ‘08’ on a bumper sticker -- or maybe expanding his national exposure to position himself for a 2012 run if the Democrats take the White House this time around (and you thought the 2008 race began early).

Perry might appeal to the conservative side of the party, but regional concerns could trump him as a 2008 veep possibility. The current president, whose low ratings have the Democratic candidates salivating, got to the White House via the Texas governor’s office. And given Republican dominance in Texas, adding its governor to a national ticket won’t necessarily bring the kind of help that, say, a running mate from Ohio or Florida might provide. But Texas is South, and Perry certainly sounds the part. So who knows?

-- Scott Martelle