Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Reuters

Texas Governor Rick Perry has surged to the top of the crowded field of Republican Presidential candidates, according to the latest polls. He and former front-runner Mitt Romney are taking potshots against each other, suggesting the race may indeed come down to these two men (unless, of course, Sarah Palin joins the fray this weekend).

Here are five interesting tidbits about the new king of the GOP:

*In 1987, while a Democrat, Perry supported Senator Al Gore during the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries and headed the Gore campaign in Texas. In 1989, Perry switched to the Republican Party.

*In 1993, as Texas agriculture commissioner, Republican Perry endorsed President Bill Clinton’s health care reform package, describing it as most commendable. The health care plan was eventually defeated by Republicans in congress.

*Perry is reportedly not on friendly terms with former President (and former Texas Governor) George W. Bush. The falling out supposedly began in 1998 when Perry had a falling out with political adviser and Bush crony Karl Rove.

*In June 2002, he overturned a proposal to ban the execution of mentally retarded prisoners.

*Perry supports the teaching of creationism in schools along with evolution.