Outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry appears to be gearing up for a 2016 Presidential run. On Thursday, he told reporters that he regrets recent remarks about homosexuality. He also warned the rest of the Republican Party to be careful about being distracted by social issues that polarize the party. Then he announced that he was giving up his cowboy boots. The comments came just a few days after Perry faced critics around the country due to remarks he made in San Francisco that suggested that homosexuality could be treated through therapy in the same manner as alcoholism.
Perry’s most recent remarks came at an event attended by several Washington news correspondents. At the same event was another Texas politician, Ted Cruz, who is also said to be considering a run for President in 2016. Cruz addressed an audience of religious conservatives. The luncheon was given by the Christian Science Monitor and was part of the festivities at a conference that was being hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The conference was organized by noted activist and Christian political pundit Ralph Reed.
At the luncheon, Perry was asked to talk about his 2012 campaign, specifically his mediocre performance in the presidential debates. Most notably, he was asked about the moment when he could not recall the name of the third government agency he said he would eliminate if he were elected President of the United States.
Perry said he was glad he ran for the Republican nomination in 2012 and called the experience both painful and humbling. He reminded the audience that he had run for Governor of Texas three times and was the victor in all three elections. However, he said that winning a statewide office does not prepare you for a national campaign.
If he decides to run again, Perry says he will be better prepared. He said that part of being prepared would be to work on the back pain that bothered him in his campaign two years ago. Since that campaign, Perry has had surgery and taken on a new exercise program. He also said he stopped wearing cowboy boots to aid in better balance.
Perry was not at the conference long. He told participants he had to return to his home state to address an issue involving child immigrants on the border of Texas and Mexico. Perry has mapped out a plan of action to be carried out by Texas law enforcement officials.
At the luncheon, Texas Senator Ted Cruz had no problem using religious themes as he railed against the current presidential administration for what he says is a total disregard of religious liberty in the enforcement of Obamacare. The junior senator said that the principles of faith and freedom helped build this country and give it strength. He said that these principles were eroding away but that together, citizens could work to save it. The crowd gave Cruz a thunderous standing ovation. Many in the audience later told reporters that they felt Cruz would do a wonderful job as the nation’s top chief executive.
Rick Perry and Ted Cruz have been consistently labeled as being conservative socially. However, Cruz has made a name for himself as being outspoken against President Obama on alleged abuse of office and foreign policy matters. Perry, on the other hand, has worked tirelessly to earn a reputation in national politics as one who was friendly to new business and had helped create new jobs and build a climate of prosperity in his state. He said that while governor, his main focus was to create the type of climate where people knew they could risk their capital because there would be a good return on their investment. As a result, this would create better jobs and subsequently create more wealth.
Perry was asked whether or not his success as governor had been eclipsed by the up and coming Cruz who was the victor in a recent Republican straw poll. Perry’s response was to question whether or not the senator really had what it took to change the national political climate. Perry pointed out that many nationally known political figures such as Ann Richards and George W. Bush have graced the Texas political landscape. The real measure of influence, Perry said, cannot be determined until much later. He suggested that reporters wait eight years to determine whether or not Cruz has made any type of political impact.
Perry’s ideas on economics would move him closer to the business end of the Republican platform. These ideas have allowed him to issue much criticism against the current administration’s environmental and energy policies, In particular, Perry has criticized the hesitation to give approval on the much debated Keystone XL petroleum pipeline which would start in Canada and extend to Texas.
Perry also took time recently to criticize government plans to curb greenhouse emissions from coal powered plants. Perry said this policy came about because of a scientific theory that has not yet been proven. However, Perry also said that he does not deny the existence of climate change or its impact on the environment and resents such characterizations.
However, Perry says he also resented the distraction caused at a recent debate when the issue of homosexuality was brought forth. Perry had been asked about a recommendation from the Republican Party in Texas that homosexuality could be treated in the same manner that doctors and therapists treat alcoholism. Perry says he wished he had answered the question differently and included the themes of respect and tolerance. He also says this issue needs to be put the sideline because everyone, whether gay or straight, needs a job.
However, there would seem to be a positive side of the San Francisco incident for Governor Perry because it gave him a chance to bring back to life a favored message of the Tea Party regarding the Tenth Amendment. This is the idea that social issues, such as same-sex unions, are for the state governments to decide, and should not be in the hands of the federal lawmakers. Perry says the bigger lesson is for members of his party to not let social issues distract them from the bigger issues.
Perry says the Republican Party needs to get to a point to where it is known as the party of ideas. This will only happen, Perry says, if Republican candidates will not allow themselves to be distracted by special interest issues.
Perry was unclear about whether or not he will run for president in 2016. However, he did say he had plans to stay in the public limelight. Going back to the Texas theme, Perry said he had no plans to ride off into the horizon.
By Rick Hope