Election 101: 11 questions about Rick Perry and his White House bid

The Texas governor made clear his intention to run for president with appearances in South Carolina and New Hampshire on Saturday and a planned trip to Iowa on Sunday.

4. What are his strengths?

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    Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, gives a fist pump to Pastor Tony Evans, left, after speaking at The Response, a call to prayer for a nation in crisis, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in Houston. Perry is spoke at the daylong prayer rally despite criticism that the event inappropriately mixes religion and politics.
    David J. Phillip/AP Photo
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"Well, he certainly has the hair,” says James Riddlesperger, a political scientist at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. “Rick Perry is someone who you can underestimate very easily,” says Professor Riddlesperger. “What really stands out is his primary asset – he’s a darn good politician.”

His record bears testament. Under Perry, Texas created more private-sector jobs than all other 49 states combined over the past decade, a huge asset in an election that will center on jobs. He also closed a $15 billion-plus budget deficit without raising taxes, refused $555 million in federal stimulus money from the Obama administration, has a strong border security record, and is a fervent supporter of states’ rights, all stances a Republican electorate will appreciate.

He’s also a fund-raising dynamo with a fat Rolodex from a strong Republican state who likes to campaign and effectively uses three Twitter accounts, text messaging, Facebook, and e-mail to build a grassroots base.

No wonder he’s drawing raves from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who told his radio audience that if Perry joined the race, “it’s a brand-new day, and it starts all over again.”

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