The Big Conversation:
Rounding out his first week as an official presidential candidate, Rick Perry has some Republicans worried.
Though his announcement last weekend jolted a fairly subdued GOP field, Perry's first week on the campaign trail — marked by his now-infamous comment about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — has reinforced concerns among Republicans who are nervous about how Perry's aggressive Texas conservatism and style would play in a general election, and how he might affect down-ballot races in northern and Midwestern states.
“You can’t be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can’t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing,” U.S. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Politico. “I’ve been with Perry a few times, and I can see how he could project, again, if it’s done the right way. But no, if he continues this, he’ll have a tough time.”
Perry on Monday in Iowa said it'd be "almost treasonous" for Bernanke to print more money to help the economy. The same day, the governor, when pressed on his suggestion that President Obama doesn't love America, said, "You need to ask him." On Thursday, rowdy protesters greeted Perry in New Hampshire, a swing state, and the governor then caused a minor stir for asserting that Texas public schools teach creationism alongside evolution.
As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reports today, Perry has tripped up in Texas before, but the gaffes haven't stuck. Perry's Bernanke comment, though, has lingered in the headlines for days, and Republicans appear to have taken notice.
Perry "is entitled to some credit, but not alone,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, in a radio appearance, said Thursday of Texas' economic strength. “There are other people who have been very instrumental in directing our state in the proper direction: George W. Bush, the Texas Legislature, all of our elected leadership here.” As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn stands to benefit from a candidate at the top of the ticket who could help boost turnout in as many states as possible.
Today, Perry heads back to South Carolina, where he'll await the latest Texas jobs numbers, which may give him more figures to tout on the campaign trail — and more data for observers to dispute.
- The organizer behind The Response, Gov. Rick Perry's Aug. 6 prayer rally in Houston, has targeted the event's registration list in an attempt to draw conservative Christians to the polls in 2012. On Thursday, Don Wildmon, the founder of the American Family Association, which sponsored the event, sent an email to attendees touting an initiative to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."
- The Tribune's Emily Ramshaw has a look at Rick Perry's hometown of Paint Creek, a swath of Rolling Plains land so barren and remote that if "Perry felt like the center of the universe in his first 18 years, he couldn’t have been faulted for it."
- The White House on Thursday announced that it would review, and possibly suspend, deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants in an attempt to concentrate resources on criminal aliens who pose safety risks. Though likely to benefit young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the move drew skepticism from some immigrants rights groups concerned with the rise in the number of cases referred for prosecution under President Obama.
“More power to Rick Perry for calling it like he saw it." — Sarah Palin to Fox News on Rick Perry's recent remarks about the Federal Reserve
- Cartels lure S. Texas officers to dark side, Houston Chronicle
- Charlie Cook: Memo to the GOP — Independent Voters Are Required to Win the General Election, National Journal
- Evan Smith: 5 myths about Rick Perry, The Washington Post