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The Brief: Nov. 7, 2011

A group of Rick Perry allies has stepped briefly — and uncharacteristically — into the spotlight: his family.

Gov. Rick Perry campaigns at a private reception in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with family members standing by.

The Big Conversation:

A group of Rick Perry allies has stepped briefly — and uncharacteristically — into the spotlight: his family.

Perry's parents broke their years-long silence last week, agreeing to an interview with The Dallas Morning News, which was published Sunday.

Refusing to discuss politics or rumors, the Perrys, who still live in the governor's hometown of Paint Creek, opened up about their son's upbringing and praised his work ethic and style.

"The way we look at it, this country needs Rick Perry because he’s the kind of person who will lead," cattleman Ray Perry, 86, told the Morning News. "We certainly don’t need another Obama; we don’t make any bones about that."

Amelia, the governor's 82-year-old mother, said she wanted to set the record straight about her son. “I probably shouldn’t be doing this because Rick asked us not to, but somebody needs to know,” she said, adding, “I may be a little biased, but I don’t think he’s perfect and I don’t always agree with him. But he’s smarter than I am and he wants what’s best for America.”

Ray and Amelia described young Perry as a politically aware child who thrived in his West Texas surroundings. “He’s always been a politician, ever since he’s been little bitty,” Ray said.

But Perry's parents weren't the only family members of the governor's to speak out. The Morning News also interviewed Griffin Perry, the governor's 28-year-old son, who, like his mother, Anita, has assumed an increasingly visible role on the campaign trail.

“My job is to keep him pumped up, to tell him to be himself,” said Griffin, who as a teenager avoided the spotlight but recently resigned from a job with Deutsche Bank to work on his father's campaign. Griffin said he wouldn't rule out getting into politics himself someday.

“The same message resonates with people everywhere,” he said of his father's campaign. “Everybody is looking for answers, looking for an alternative for what’s coming out of Washington today.”

Culled:

  • Gov. Rick Perry's plan to let state and local government workers opt out of Social Security could threaten their retirements and drain money from the system, according to The New York Times. The Tribune's Jay Root also reports today that while Perry has routinely bashed entitlements over the years, he has relied on the government for health care and retirement security.
  • In an appearance Sunday on CNN, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said she wouldn't backtrack on her criticism of Rick Perry, with whom she fought for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010. "I thought that we needed a choice in Texas, and I certainly feel the same way about the United States," Hutchison said, adding, "When you've been in office for a long time, you have a record, and that record is fair game. I think that some of the things in his record have certainly not been helpful."
  • Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich met Saturday in The Woodlands to debate at a Tea Party event, but as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reported, the proceedings — which included no mentions of Texas candidates Rick Perry and Ron Paul — amounted more to a love fest than a showdown, with the two presidential candidates cordially agreeing on issues like entitlement reform, voter ID and health care. The only tense moment of the night came in the post-debate spin room, when Cain cut off a reporter who began asking him about the sexual harassment story that has dogged his campaign for the past week. "We're getting back on message," Cain told reporters. "End of story!" Though a poll released last week showed Cain having weathered the initial days of the harassment saga, his favorability ratings among Republicans have dropped 9 points, according to a new Reuters survey.

“Don’t even go there.”Herman Cain, cutting off a reporter who began asking a question about the sexual harassment allegations Cain has faced

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