When Rick Perry hinted in July at another presidential bid, it seemed like a fresh “oops” moment for the one-time contender whose debate blunder became a metaphor for his hapless campaign. Turns out he wasn’t kidding.
This week, Perry is trying to hone his foreign policy credentials in visits to London and Israel. He’s also starring in a national advertising campaign that seeks to capitalize on increasing public disgust with Congress by deriding Washington gridlock and touting conservative governors.
The television ad and the overseas trip are sponsored by Perry’s new non-profit, Americans for Economic Freedom, which will allow him to travel and promote his economic record as he weighs a presidential campaign.
“Washington needs to change. But the president keeps playing politics,” Perry says in the spot. “Conservative governors are reforming taxes and regulations, helping small businesses grow, cutting and balancing budgets.”
Next up: Perry retraces his steps to the state that holds the first nominating caucus, with a speech to the Polk County Republican Party in Iowa on Nov. 7.
“He’s actively considering it, and I think he’s the most underrated presidential candidate who could win,” said Henry Barbour, an executive committee member of the Republican National Committee and the nephew of former RNC chairman Haley Barbour.
Perry’s last run started strong but began to unravel quickly after a notorious, clumsy mistake in one of the 2011 Republican primary debates, when he couldn’t recall the third federal agency he would eliminate if elected. The impression of a campaign simply unprepared for the national stage stuck, leading many Republicans to assume he couldn’t possibly be serious about running again.
But, remember that every GOP nominee since Ronald Reagan except George W. Bush had run before and failed. Consider that the government shutdown has convinced many Republicans that their next nominee will not come from Washington. (Although Perry is unlikely to be the only governor in the mix; Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin are also potential 2016 contenders.)
The underpinning of Perry’s next campaign would be the contrast between his success at recruiting companies to Texas and the Washington dysfunction that has shuttered the government and pushed the nation toward default.
“It’s always difficult to make a second first impression, but if things continue to unravel in Washington, Gov. Perry’s message would be very appealing,” said Dave Carney, a senior adviser to Perry’s 2012 campaign. “The question is whether he’ll be able to get new folks to replace donors who feel they’ve been there, done that, and I’m sure that’s part of his effort of going around the country.”
The head of the new non-profit, Jeff Miller, is a major Republican fundraiser from California who has relocated to Austin and become one of Perry’s closest political advisers. In an effort to better school himself in domestic and foreign policy, Perry has visited the Hoover Institution, a California-based conservative think tank, and huddled with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at his New York City office. He already looks smarter; The New Republicobserved he’s been wearing “hipster-professorial glasses” in recent public appearances.
“He’s not just surrounding himself with the good ol’ boys who ran his campaigns for governor and then ran his campaign for president with the same arrogance that a lot of incumbents run with,” said California-based Republican consultant Bob Schuman, who backed Perry in 2012. “I think at the end of the day, he’ll be a serious presidential candidate.”
One of the most obvious challenges for Perry if he decides to run will be raising enough money to fuel a national campaign. This time he’ll be doing it from outside the governor’s mansion and trying to convince supporters who invested in him before that he’s worth the risk. Perry came in fifth place in the Iowa caucus and sixth in the New Hampshire primary. He vowed to compete in South Carolina but ultimately dropped out before the vote.
“Among most of the people I’ve talked to who were big funders last time, there’s disbelief that he’s really going to run again,” said Republican consultant Barry Bennett, who advised a super PAC that backed Perry’s 2012 bid. “The campaign came on so strong and then it was so catastrophic. It’s not like he ran a good race and finished second.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”