Texas Gov. Rick Perry won't run for re-election in 2014, which leads to speculation that he's planning another race for president instead. From the standpoint of journalistic entertainment value, I wouldn't object. But if he seriously thinks he has a chance of winning, he really should reconsider.
In his first race, Perry was not a mediocre presidential candidate. He was not a bad one. He was a catastrophe. He entered the contest looking formidable -- well-funded, telegenic and strongly conservative, with an impressive string of state election victories. He looked like the second coming of George W. Bush.
But it didn't last. Even before his famous brain cramp, when he forgot one of three Cabinet departments he wanted to abolish, he did poorly when he had to contend with his rivals. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote that "at key moments in each debate, he has come off as ill-prepared, confused or, well, too liberal."
Mitt Romney attacked him for being soft on illegal immigration. He lumped our NATO ally Turkey in with enemies Syria and Iran. He showed no real grasp of many issues.
Perry didn't lose to Ronald Reagan or some other outstanding candidate. In Iowa, where he focused his campaign, he came in behind not only Romney but Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich.
His problem was that he assumed an approach that worked in Texas would work elsewhere. He was like a minor league slugger who gets to the majors, expects the pitchers to be no better than any he's seen before, and then can't adjust to the tougher reality.
Perry, as cocksure and hardline as ever, gives no indication that he's learned anything that would serve him well in another race. He recently said President Obama wouldn't "make one phone call to save our men and women in a embassy in Lebanon" -- presumably meaning the one in Benghazi, Libya. As for his shortcomings as a presidential candidate, he said, "the fact is, God hadn’t called the perfect to go into the arena of public service. He’s called people just like you and just like me.”
That's Rick Perry, messing up and taking it as proof he's God's own choice. Journalists will welcome him into the 2016 race. Voters, not so much.
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