Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) was a latecomer to the Republican primary race during the 2012 presidential election cycle – formally announcing his candidacy in 2011 on the day of the Iowa straw poll. Despite his tardy arrival to the candidate pool the Texan’s polling was quickly solid.
However after some awkward moments on the campaign trail and in the debates, then being tied to an unfortunately named hunting camp, Perry’s star faded. He finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses, did not compete in the New Hampshire primary and bowed out of the 2012 contest altogether after polling for the South Carolina primary didn’t look very promising.
Ever since Perry stumbled out of the 2012 sweepstakes, the Texas governor has engaged in various image rehabilitation efforts. The majority of those have been Texas-centric, with the governor headed to liberal high-tax and high-regulation states attempting to recruit businesses away from those states.
That seemed to improve Perry’s profile in the eyes of rank and file conservatives. But where he has made a positive impact in the eyes of less ideological Republicans has been with the ongoing crisis of unencumbered illegal immigration across the southern border – most of it coming into his state. The U.S. government estimates (very likely on the low-end) that 90,000 unaccompanied immigrant children will have crossed the U.S.-Texas border by the end of this fiscal year.
The crisis of unaccompanied minors and family units illegally crossing the border has garnered a lot of media attention. But Perry has stepped up in a way much like Rudy Giuliani had following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on his city.
In Giuliani’s case, the New York City mayor was able generate some buzz about a potential presidential run. However, Giuliani had to wait seven years for President George W. Bush’s term to expire before he was able to put his star power to the test, a test that proved to be too much for the former mayor to overcome.
Perry, on the other hand, only has to maintain this momentum through the November midterms. Then it’s on to the year-long slog of the Iowa caucuses.
The political capital and positive vibe Perry is currently amassing with the border crisis has not been in a vacuum. Even before the border crisis became headline news, Perry was starting to generate chatter about his potential 2016 campaign.
During the 2012 contest, Democratic strategist James Carville called Perry “the worst presidential candidate in America history.”
“Who is worse?” Carville said on CNN immediately following the 2012 Iowa caucuses. “He was on fire. He was on fire for a while. There’s nobody that had worse debates than he did.”
“There was nobody that raised more money to less effect,” he added. “Not Giuliani, not Fred Thompson, not John Connally, not anybody – given the expectations of where he started I’m sorry, he was the worst ever.”
But since then, Carville has dramatically changed his tune on Perry. Earlier this year, Carville pointed to the fundraising ability of Perry, who as Carville said could “butt-dial” someone and raise $1 million.
“My dark horse candidate believe it or not is Rick Perry,” Carville said to ABC News back in April. “And I say that and I give you my reasons. First of all the Kentucky Derby is coming up. He’s been around the course once. He knows what the track is like. Secondly, he can raise a bucket load of money. He is governor of Texas. Third, unlike Scott Walker he’s got a compelling economic story to tell. Somebody from the Bush Scott Walker, I think Rick Perry would be my dark horse. And I think he’s more electable.”
Before announcing his 2012 run, Perry’s final stop was a fundraiser in Birmingham for the Alabama Republican Party. And although there is not yet a solidified 2016 primary schedule, the 2012 Alabama and Mississippi primaries proved to be pivotal in 2012 for Mitt Romney to ultimately secure the Republican nomination. Rick Santorum, much like Mike Huckabee in 2008, was able to showcase the strength of the social conservative vote in Alabama and Mississippi. That social conservative vote may be helpful to Perry as well.
During the 2011-2012 presidential election cycle, pundits argued that opting to run six weeks after having back surgery was Perry’s ultimate downfall. His efforts at the time looked hastily conceived and his late entry really did not allow enough time for a solid ground game to attain the nomination.
But this time, Perry looks to at least be laying the groundwork for a 2016 run, should he decide to actually follow through.
If you’re a gambler, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the odds on favorite to be the next president of the United States according to popular Britain-based sportsbook Ladbrokes. They give her 6/4 odds, meaning you bet $1, the payout is $1.50. Perry comes way down the list at 50/1, meaning that same $1 bet wins you $50.
It might be worth taking a look at Rick Perry for an early bet to win the nation’s highest office on Nov. 8, 2016.