Surely wearing his boots emblazoned with the words "liberty" and "freedom," Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he is making a run for the U.S. presidency in 2012. And if the recent polls prove to be a trend, he and his boots have already walked over many of his competitors.
Perry made the announcement to launch his campaign in a statement issued shortly before he was to address a gathering of conservatives at a RedState conference in Charleston, South Carolina.
"It is time to get America working again," Perry said. "That's why with the support of my family and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
The Eyes of Texas Have Been Upon Perry for a Long Time
The three-time Texas governor, the longest-serving governor in the state, and second longest-serving governor ever, touts a record of job growth in Texas, is a strong proponent of states' rights and critic of federal power. He is also opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey, Perry is tucked into second place, right behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 15 percent to Romney's 17 percent. Both picked up a point since the last CNN poll released in July. Perry won 7 percent of independents while garnering 19 percent support from conservatives.
In remarks posted before is speech on his campaign's newly launched Web site, Perry said, "As Americans, we believe freedom is a gift from God, and government's prime function is to defend it. We don't see the role of government as a nanny state, and we recognize there is no government money that wasn't once earned through the sweat and toil of private citizens."
He also jumped onto the bandwagon of criticizing President Barack Obama's administration.
"That's why we object to an administration that sees its role as spending our children's inheritance on failed economic theories that have given us record debt and left far too many unemployed, threatening not only our economy, but our security. Our reliance on foreign creditors and sources of energy not only compromises our national sovereignty, but jeopardizes our national future," Perry said.
But, who is Perry, really? And what does he stand for?
James Richard "Rick" Perry, the son of cotton farmers, was born March 4, 1950. A fifth-generation Texas, Perry was born in a small town of west Texas called Paint Creek. Growing up, Perry earned the honor of Eagle Scout. (The Boy Scouts of American would later honor him with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.) Perry graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1968. He then attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he majored in animal science, and was a yell-leader and a member of the Corps of Cadets.
Upon graduation in 1972, Perry was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and flew C-130 tactical aircraft in the U.S., Middle East and Europe. He was discharged with the rank of captain and returned to West Texas to help on his family ranch in 1977.
In 1982, Perry marred Anita Thigpen, his childhood sweetheart whom he had met at a piano recital in elementary school. Perry and his wife have one son, Griffin, and one daughter, Sydney.
Perry made the leap into politics in 1985 when he entered the state House of Representatives as a conservative Democrat. He supported Al Gore's presidential bid in 1988.
In 1989, Perry traded teams and became a Republican. The following year, he ran, and won, in the election for agriculture commissioner, a role that allowed him to promote the sale of Texas farm produce in the states and abroad.
After serving two terms in this position, Perry ran for lieutenant governor, becoming the state's first Republican lieutenant governor since Reconstruction.
Perry is an evangelical Christian, and his deeply rooted faith does (and will) play a huge part of his public image. He grew up in a Methodist church; his family has been members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church, the same church of former President George W. Bush, since the 1990s.
Fiscal and Social Conservative
Where social policy is concerned, Perry aligns very much with his Republican base, opposing all legal recognition of same-sex marriages and abortions.
In 2002, Perry said Texas' same-sex anti-sodomy law was "appropriate," but being a proponent of states' rights, said New York's same-sex marriage bill is fine, as it is a 10th amendment issue. The above stance suggests Perry would allow currently more liberal states, such as New York, California, and Massachusetts, protect gay rights without the threat of a federal law suit or comparable federal action under any government Perry would head.
In 2005, Perry signed a bill that limited late-term abortions and required girls under the age of 18 to have parental consent before an abortion. And in May, he signed a "Mandatory Ultrasound Bill" that stipulates that every abortion practitioner must perform a sonogram and explain the sonogram images of the unborn child to the mother, whether she wants to see it or not. This is waived only in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and judicial bypass for a minor.
Fiscally, Perry said he is for small government, limited spending, taxes kept low, and in control and regulations that are fair and predictable.
In his book, "Fed Up!" Perry criticized big government, called for greater freedoms for state governments, and blamed Washington politicians for hurting America.
Over the past year, Texas' job growth was twice the national average. According to a report from the Dallas Federal Reserve, which analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of all the jobs created since June 2009, 30 percent, roughly 295,000 jobs, were created in Texas. In fact, the Texas unemployment rate has been below the national average for his entire decade-long governorship.