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Texas Governor Perry May Join US Presidential Race


Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2011 (file photo)

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2011 (file photo)

In U.S. politics, 10 Republicans are seeking their party’s presidential nomination next year - a crowded White House field that could grow even larger in the weeks ahead. Among the possible contenders getting national attention is Texas Governor Rick Perry.

There seems to be no shortage of Republicans who would like to be president - ranging from well-known candidates like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, to lesser-known contenders like businessman Herman Cain and Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter.

Despite the crowded field, three more prominent Republicans are considering joining the race in the next few months, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Perry may make move

Of those three, Perry appears to be the closest to getting in the race. Perry told The Des Moines Register newspaper that he is becoming more comfortable every day with the idea that running for president is what he has been called to do.

Perry is an evangelical Christian and his comment that he is being called to run for president struck some observers as having religious overtones.

Perry downplayed that aspect with local reporters in Texas, but confirmed that many Republicans are urging him to get into the 2012 race.

“There are people calling from all across this country into either me directly or people that they know and saying, ‘Man, we wish you would consider doing this,” said Perry.

Broad GOP appeal

VOA Houston Correspondent Greg Flakus has covered the governor for years, and said Perry appeals to various groups within the Republican Party.

“Perry is definitely a fiscal conservative and he emphasizes over and over again the business-friendly atmosphere in Texas. He was also one of the politicians who early on embraced the Tea Party and went to Tea Party rallies, and he can speak the rhetoric that they like to hear,” said Flakus.

Perry touts an impressive record of creating jobs in Texas, something that might resonate with voters impatient with the stubbornly high national unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said, “So what Rick Perry wants to do is say, 'I have been a successful governor of Texas for 10 years. I can bring those skills to the national level.'”

Romney leads pack

A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll finds Mitt Romney leading the Republican field with 30 percent support, followed by Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann at 16 percent and Governor Perry at 11 percent, even though he has yet to announce his plans.

A recent Quinnipiac University public opinion survey shows a similar trend, and Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown said Perry has the potential to build support, if he decides to enter the race.

“Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, hasn’t even decided if he is going to run or not. But he is making sounds about running, and the fact that he can break into double-digits is pretty impressive,” said Brown.

The other big winner in recent surveys is Michele Bachmann, who has moved into second place in the Republican field and who more than doubled her support from similar polls last month.

Bachmann gains ground

Bachmann has been visiting some of the early primary and caucus states pledging to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, if she is elected.

“President Obama added to our spending problem by adding trillions of dollars to our debt. Without the repeal of 'Obamacare,' we can’t hope to have real economic reform,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann has been on the defensive this week over reports that she occasionally suffers from severe migraine headaches. Bachmann said the condition would not affect her ability to serve as president and commander-in-chief.

Bachmann’s rise in the polls raises questions about the strength of the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney. Romney continues to lead in the polls, but Quinnipiac pollster Brown said he would not describe the former Massachusetts governor as a strong front-runner at this point.

“By traditional standards, no. He is getting support from one-quarter of Republicans, but that is not overwhelming," said Brown. "And again, if you combine the votes of those who are for other candidates, they dwarf that 25 percent.”

The first test for the Republican presidential field will come next month in a non-binding straw poll vote in Iowa - the state that will kick off the U.S. presidential nominating process with its caucus voting next February.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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