Gov. Rick Perry made three stops around Austin on Monday, previewing the political message that will likely dominate his presidential campaign if he decides to run.
Perry first spoke to a police association about border security. From there, he announced 300 new jobs coming to Austin and touted the state's regulatory climate. He then signed a new law he says will lower the state's Medicaid costs.
Federal overreach is "sustained by this unguided notion that Washington knows best about everything," Perry said. "Well, in Texas we know better."
That's the message Perry will take to the national stage if he runs for president. "He'll talk in terms of Texas success and the Texas model being something the nation should pay attention to — even though he won't leave Austin," says Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.
Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News
So just how long will Perry keep up this non-campaign campaigning before he announces his decision? He's expected to give word after The Response, his prayer and fasting event at Houston's Reliant Stadium on Aug. 6. And Jillson says the three weeks between now and then should quickly pass without any problems for Perry.
"I think as long as he continues this tease about whether he's going to run for president or not, people will attend these events," Jillson says.
If this all seems a little familiar, it is. In 2009 and 2010, Perry used ceremonial bill signings and state events to run against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was challenging Perry for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He was criticized, mostly by the Hutchison camp, for spending state money to make what amounted to campaign photo-ops. Now, the governor quickly deflects any criticism by saying that whether he's running for president or not, it's his job to promote Texas.
"I'm going to be traveling; I'm going to be traveling internationally," Perry said. "I'm going to be traveling to places where the Texas story needs to be told, and we will tell it."
If any of those stops happen to allow the governor to connect with voters, donors or anyone else he might need for a successful presidential run, well, that's just a coincidence.
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