Since 2006, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been boosting his conservative credentials, and now we know why -- he wants to be president. During this year's legislative session alone, Perry has taken on immigration, sanctuary cities, voter ID, women's reproductive issues, airport security, and, of course, the Obama administration, all national issues he can talk about in a national campaign.
Outside his home state, Perry might best be known for toying with the idea of secession. During the rise of the tea party, Perry told supporters at a rally in April, 2009, "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that." We're still not sure if Perry wants to run for president of the United States or president of the Republic of Texas.
Perry's disdain for the media rivals that of Sarah Palin, as evidenced by his avoiding reporters, eschewing televised debates, and even refusing to meet with the state's editorial boards during the last gubernatorial election. Unfortunately for the governor, he's going to need the media if he wants to run on a national platform. And he's never seen anything like the Washington press corps.
As momentum builds behind Perry's potential run at the White House in 2012, the national press is sure to delve deeper into his record. As that process begins, here's a list of things Texans know about Rick Perry that the national political audience should know, too.
1. Few Texans Would Vote for Him
As people have been saying, Perry's not exactly popular in his home state (but, as he told Neil Cavuto last week, "a prophet is generally not loved in their hometown."). An independent poll released June 16 showed that only 9 percent of likely Republican voters in Texas would support him for president.
2. He Supported Al Gore in '88
When Perry first entered politics as a candidate for the Texas House in 1984, he was a Democrat. He remained a Democrat until he ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 1989, when he joined the Republican party. (In 1988, he not only endorsed Al Gore for president, he headed up his campaign in Texas.)
3. 'Adios, MoFo'
His infamous catchphrase from 2005 later became a Texas Democratic campaign slogan: "Adios, MoFo." He had been referring to a reporter when he thought he was off-mic. (Or he knew he was still on-mic, and wanted to look like a bad-ass.)
4. Conspiracy Theory: He Backs Transnational Government
In 2007 -- way before all his anti-federal ranting -- Perry pushed hard for the Trans-Texas Corridor super highway, a.k.a. the "North American Union" under NAFTA. Conspiracy theorists in Texas (i.e. Alex Jones) accused him of trying to create a single nation consisting of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., living under one currency, the Amero.
5. Sued Over HPV Vaccines
In 2007, he bypassed the Texas legislature and signed an executive order to require HPV vaccines for all 6th grade girls. It did not sit well with conservative Christians and a lawsuit was filed by a group of concerned parents. Perry's former chief of staff Mike Toomey was a lobbyist for Merck, which created Gardisil, at the time. The legislature repealed his order.
Last April Perry claimed he shot and killed a coyote while out running with his laser-sighted pistol (a .380 Ruger). He says he carries the gun with him when jogging because he's afraid of snakes. But he'd gone running without his security detail for once, so no one was there to verify the kill.
7. Border Cameras, Sanctuary Cities
In 2006, Perry proposed installing hundreds of night vision cameras along the border that would allow anyone to view it live online. During the regular legislative session this year, a bid to create sanctuary cities didn't pass, but Perry added them to the special session agenda. (Plus he has said he thinks Juarez is the most dangerous city "in America."
8. He's Gotten More Religious
9. He Is Pals with Palin
10. He's Not Popular with W
Bush loyalists can't stand Perry. But that might be a good thing.
11. Friends With Ted Nugent
12. A Nader Connection