Economy Is Voters’ Top Worry: A Break for Rick Perry?
Policy + Politics

Economy Is Voters’ Top Worry: A Break for Rick Perry?

© Brian Snyder / Reuters

In what has increasingly become the way these things happen, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry essentially announced via his wife’s Twitter account today that he will declare his candidacy for president on June 4 in Dallas.

Perry’s wife’s tweet did not explicitly say that her husband will be running for president – only that she and the former governor “have been discussing the future of this great country and how our family can play a role.” However, the link to an Eventbrite site offering tickets to a “special announcement” was a bit of a giveaway.

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Perry’s unofficial announcement came on the same day as some news that ought to give his supporters heart. Gallup released a survey on Friday showing that of all the issues likely to be raised in a presidential campaign, the one most important to voters of all political stripes right now is the economy.

Perry, who served 15 years as governor of Texas, has made the state’s economic performance during his tenure the centerpiece of his potential candidacy. In a previous attempt to secure the Republican nomination, he spent much of 2011 touting the “Texas miracle,” pointing out that while the rest of the country was shedding jobs in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Texas was hiring.

Perry’s claims came under fire from many directions, including those who claimed Texas was essentially the winner of a race to the bottom when it came to slashing government regulation and services. But the then-governor’s candidacy floundered for different reasons, as Perry fared poorly in debates and other public appearances.

He has since worked hard to polish his act, and will likely avoid the kinds of stumbles that marred his first run for the White House. His task, though, will be to differentiate himself from an ever-widening field. That’s why the Gallup poll may matter.

There are currently six official candidates for the Republican nomination, but by the time Perry steps on stage in Dallas to announce his intentions, he will likely be the 10th member of the GOP field since several of his potential rivals have already scheduled earlier events at which they are expected to reveal their own presidential ambitions. Between now and Perry’s announcement, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are expected to have joined the field. The six candidates who have already declared are neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

A number of the other candidates on the Republican roster tend to appeal to voters concerned about other issues: Graham, for example, is largely a national security candidate, Santorum and Huckabee are first and foremost social conservatives and Cruz is beholden to his Tea Party base, which is arguably more concerned about tax rates and immigration than the broader economy. Perry may be best positioned to build a campaign on an economic message.

Other candidates will almost certainly enter the race after Perry. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has still not announced officially; nor has Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are hanging around the edge of the ring as well.

The list doesn’t end there. The Republican National Committee, for example, has a straw poll up on its website asking potential voters to pick not one, not two, but three of their favorite contenders. The multiple picks are probably necessary, though, because 36 choices are offered.

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