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

James Richard Perry wants to hang his cowboy hat in the White House. The Texas governor announced Saturday at a campaign stop in South Carolina that he was running for president. He was also traveling later in the day to New Hampshire, and planned a trip to Iowa on Sunday.

Governor Perry is a shrewd politician who oozes Texas swagger. His rock-solid record is buttressed by his state’s impressive jobs record. But is America ready for another cowboy president?

1. Who is Rick Perry?

Amarillo Globe-News, Roberto Rodriguez/AP Photo
Texas Governor Rick Perry talks about the federal budget before signing House Bill 1, of the 82nd regular session, and Senate Bill 2, of the 82nd special session , Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. Perry will announce on Saturday that he will run for the 2012 Republican nomination for U.S. president.

A fifth generation Texan from the tiny West Texas town of Paint Creek, Perry is the Eagle Scout son of Democratic tenant farmers.

After majoring in animal science at Texas A&M, Perry joined the US Air Force, where he completed pilot training and flew C-130 transports. He left with the rank of captain, joined his father’s cotton farm, married his childhood sweetheart, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives.

In 1989, Perry became a Republican (“I made both parties happy”), then won successive roles as Texas agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor, and, in late 2000, governor.

Perry is the longest-serving Texas governor. He is known as much for his stellar record creating private-sector jobs in Texas as for his syrupy accent and cufflinks-and-cowboy boots style.

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