Rick Perry is the longest serving governor of Texas. He was originally a Democrat but switched parties after supporting Al Gore in the 1988 presidential campaign.
Before being elected lieutenant governor in 1998, Perry served two terms as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, where he pushed for austere budgets. A falling out with Karl Rove during the campaign for lieutenant governor began the rivalry between Bush and Perry camps.
Perry became governor when George W. Bush resigned to become president, and Perry went on to win three terms. He entered the presidential campaign in 2011 and suspended his campaign in early 2012, endorsing New Gingrich and later Mitt Romney. He is liked by conservatives and the Tea Party.
Perry wrote two books, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For and Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, which takes issue with the federal government’s right to collect income tax. He is married with two children.
Perry’s presidential campaign highlighted economic growth in Texas, anti-tax and anti-regulation policies, and social values. As governor, he opposed creating a state income tax. He signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes” in 2009.
In October 2011, Perry put forward a flat tax proposal that would allow taxpayers to choose either their tax rate under existing law or a flat 20% rate. The plan would also eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits and inheritances. Asked if this would help wealthy taxpayers, Perry said he was not concerned about that because a lower tax rate would encourage greater investment and job creation by the wealthy.
He said that Social Security was like “an illegal Ponzi scheme” and suggested that it was unconstitutional. His comments have been criticized by Cheney, Rove, and Romney.
In 2011, Perry sharply criticized the Federal Reserve, stating that it would be “almost treacherous – or treasonous in my opinion” to be “printing money to play politics.” He suggested that if the Federal Reserve Chairman visited Texas, “we would treat him pretty ugly,” a remark the White House criticized as threatening.
Perry supported President Clinton’s national health care reform efforts, later saying he wanted more attention paid to rural health care. However, as governor he has opposed federal health care reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, calling it “socialism on American soil” and calling for its repeal.
Texas leads the nation in the proportion of uninsured residents (26%) and has the lowest level of access to prenatal care. Because insured residents carry the burden of caring for those who are uninsured, insurance premiums have risen and Texas ranks next-to-last among states in terms of affordability of health insurance. Medicaid spending, currently covering one in three Texas children, has been cut, making enrollment more difficult. In 2003 Perry signed a bill restricting non-medical damages in medical malpractice judgments, but it has neither increased the number of physicians nor limited healthcare costs.
Perry opposes all abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, including in cases of rape or incest. In 2011 Perry had stem cell surgery and started to lay groundwork for the commercialization of the adult stem cell industry in Texas.
He supported Texas’ same-sex anti-sodomy law, struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision Perry thought violated the 14th Amendment, and he supports a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Perry also criticized the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Perry supports the death penalty and in 2002 vetoed legislation banning the execution of mentally retarded inmates.
Perry called climate science a “contrived phony mess.” He opposes regulation of greenhouse gas emissions because it would have “devastating implications” for the Texas economy and energy industry.
In 2006, Perry stated that he believes that the Bible is without error and that those who do not accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell. He says he is “a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect” and thinks it should be taught along with evolution.
“I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pews every Sunday to know that there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
(Rick Perry campaign ad “Strong” – Source)
“Under Obama, our federal tax dollars can now be used to fund abortion all over the world. With the stroke of a pen, abortion essentially became a U.S. foreign export.”
(Speech at United for Life Rally, Los Angeles, CA,. June 11, 2011 – Source)
“Juarez is reported to be the most dangerous city in America.”
(2011-02-28, quoted in Barr, Andy, March 1, 2011 – Source)
“I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we're going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don't spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it's slavery. We become slaves to government.”
(June 2011, James Robison’s Life Today television program, Source)
“Many homeless have chosen their lifestyle — not as a conscious lifestyle choice made in prior years of sobriety but through a series of decisions that not only led to their homelessness, but also perpetuate it. They choose to drink, they choose to get high, they choose to engage in a life or crime, and often they choose to do it all on the streets instead of in shelters where there is strict enforcement of prohibitions on such behavior. The homeless need help. But the help they need is to make some of their behavior more difficult to engage in. If you take a hard approach to blight, then you create a disincentive for continuing blight.”
(Feb. 2008, On My Honor by Rick Perry – Source)