Why some tea partyers are skeptical of Rick Perry
In the latest Rasmussen poll of likely GOP primary voters, 39 percent of tea partyers back Gov. Rick Perry, but some are questioning the candidate's tea party credibility.
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Other points about Perry have come up as tea partyers decide whom to support for the GOP nomination:Skip to next paragraph
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- Perry was a Democrat until 1989. He was, of course, a conservative Southern Democrat – which is different from, say, a Minnesota Democrat, as Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) of Minnesota was as a young woman. But a D is a D.
- Not only was Perry once a Democrat, he was the Texas chairman of then-Sen. Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 1988. At that point, Senator Gore was already a crusader on climate change, though a Perry spokesman says the governor didn’t agree with him on everything.
- Perry appears to hold contradictory views on gay marriage. He said he thought New York should be allowed to legalize gay marriage in the name of states’ rights, but then said he backed a federal marriage amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. This is one point where social conservatives who want the federal amendment are at odds with tea partyers who choose to focus on fiscal matters.
- Perry mandated the Gardasil cancer vaccination for all Texas sixth-grade girls, but the measure was rescinded by the Texas Legislature after a backlash. Perry now says he regrets the mandate. Perry faced accusations of government intrusion and even shady money dealings with vaccine manufacturer Merck, which donated to his campaign.
- In the Republican universe, Perry is as establishment as they come. He was until recently the chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. He’s held elective office in Texas since 1985.
- In 2001, he signed Texas’s version of the DREAM Act, which allows some illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. To conservatives, the DREAM Act is anathema; Perry opposes the federal version of the act. If Perry wins the nomination, he will have to walk a fine line as he woos the Latino vote.
- Perry has been living in a $10,000-a-month rental home, at taxpayer expense, since 2007 while the governor’s mansion has been undergoing repairs. This flies in the face of his claims of fiscal prudence, as he cuts the state budget.
Folks are still in the “deep analysis” phase, and that’s a good thing, he says.
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“Tea partyers are very acutely aware of what enthusiasm and excitement put into the White House in 2008, and he’s sitting there now,” says Mr. Meckler, who plans to stay neutral in the nomination race. “What they’re doing now is the exact opposite. They’ve put aside the emotion, and are logically and methodically looking at records and analyzing every candidate.”