Among political wonks, Charles Cook of the Cook Political Report has long been considered one of the wisest of the wise. He’s out with a National Journal article today that suggests that Rick Perry, having learned the lessons of his disastrous 2012 bid, may throw his hat in the ring again in 2016.
A piece this Sunday on Texas Gov. Rick Perry in The Des Moines Register by the paper’s top political reporter, Jennifer Jacobs, caught my eye. Jacobs’s observations about seeing Perry on the stump in Iowa in recent days matched my impressions from a meeting with him last month. Jacobs observed that “a guy who in the past didn’t seem like he could run for a governor’s office much less the Oval Office seemed like a different candidate, Iowans said, after Perry talked about ‘prosperity and hope and freedom,’ as well as a favorite topic of his lately, immigration reform.” Jacobs went on: ” ‘We know how to secure the border,’ said Perry, the governor of Texas, his voice rising from quiet solemnity to a loud command, ‘and if the federal government will not do its duty, then I will suggest to you that the state of Texas will.’ ” Jacobs then noted, “That remark brought the audience of about 200 northwest Iowa Republicans to their feet for an extended standing ovation. And the room was buzzing after the 16-minute speech at the dinner, a fundraiser for nine county Republican parties.”
Jacobs quoted Humboldt County Republican Party Chairman Bud Douglas saying, “He seems to have matured or changed a bit. He seemed to have more fire, a lot more motivation.” State Auditor Mary Mosiman was quoted in the piece as saying, “This was definitely the most energized I’ve seen him,” adding, ” ‘Spot on’ is what I was just saying to a tablemate of mine. He was very energized, very upbeat, very motivated.”
Cook also explains why he believes Perry’s back surgery may have truly been the reason his 2012 candidacy didn’t go anywhere:
I am now convinced that what seemed four years ago to be a lame excuse for his troubles—that he had undergone back surgery shortly before entering the presidential contest and was still taking painkillers as he undertook the bid—was more real than perceived. (My wife suffered a herniated disk three months ago, less than two weeks before our only daughter’s wedding; in all our 32 years of marriage, my conversations with her under the influence of Vicodin and Percocet were among the most memorable.) Undergoing the grueling process of running for president and engaging almost immediately in nationally televised debates while recovering from surgery and under the influence of painkillers would be enough of a handicap for anyone.
I was an early fan of Rick Perry last time around, and was highly disappointed when he performed so poorly in the debates. Big-government moderates Jeb and Christie may indeed also run, so it would be very nice if we had a solid conservative in the race. Rick Perry might just be the man this time around.