Rick Perry

Rick Perry and the Trump Effect

The former Texas governor is running a strong campaign. Too bad Donald Trump is in the race.


Four years ago this month, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry briefly surged to the top of the 2012 GOP primary field. But after an embarrassing debate gaffe—he couldn't remember which three federal agencies he wanted to close—and a series of campaign struggles, he quickly fell in the polls. This year, the former Texas governor, acknowledging that he wasn't ready four years ago, has attempted to reboot his campaign. But he's struggled to gain traction: Perry was edged out of the prime-time debate last week, and his fundraising has been weak. On Monday, it was reported that his campaign has stopped paying its staff.

Perry's campaign isn't over, but it's not a good sign. And it's a shame that he has failed to take off this round. While I was no fan of his 2012 run and I continue disagree with him strongly on many issues, Perry has run an interesting, valuable campaign that ought to have injected some seriousness and substance into the GOP field—ought to, and would have, I suspect, if not for the presence of Donald Trump

To understand why Trump has made it so hard for a candidate like Perry to stand out, and why the billionaire reality star has had such a pernicious overall effect on the race, it's worth going back to July, when Perry delivered a lengthy speech on financial reform at a two-hour event held at the Yale Club in Manhattan. It was in many ways an unusual topic for a Republican candidate to address at length; GOP candidates are more likely to call for the repeal of Dodd-Frank than to offer ideas of their own.

Perry's speech, though, was peppered with wonky policy proposals—dealing with everything from strengthening capital requirements for big banks to overhauling the Consumer Financial Protection to building in "regulatory breathing room" for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Perry didn't have every detail nailed down, but relatively speaking it was a substantive and detailed speech that left a lot to discuss—and, perhaps, to disagree with. The former Texas governor promised flatly that as president he would never bail out any Wall Street bank. He also called for, among other things, regulations on certain types of mortgage products, crediting his state's rules restricting cash-out refinancing for helping the state to weather the recession.

At the end of the two-hour event, there was time for one question from the audience. It went to a reporter from The Daily Mail who asked Perry not about anything from his speech but about attacks from the GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump. Rick Perry jokingly responded that he'd like to challenge Trump to a pull-up contest. Google News currently counts more than 400 stories that reference Perry's pull-up challenge. (Yes, for the record, I briefly referenced it too.)

That's the Trump effect at work. The entire GOP field becomes defined by their relationship to Trump—by what Trump has said about them, and what they have said about him.

To be fair, Perry has courted this, at least to some extent. Of all the GOP candidates in the race, he has probably been Trump's most open and aggressive antagonist; certainly he was Trump's loudest critic in the field prior to the GOP debate, labeling Trump a "cancer on conservatism." Yet this too is an example of how the Trump effect alters the race. With Trump and his antics leading the field, the other candidates, especially those not in the top tier, are looking for ways to stand out with their own outrageous comments—by tweeting about Cecil the Lion and Planned Parenthood, for example, or comparing the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran to the Holocaust. Perry's attempt to draw attention by attacking Trump directly was, in comparison, the high road.

Indeed, Perry's campaign this year has tried to take the high road whenever possible. That was its big idea—to run an honest campaign built on big ideas.

The financial reform speech wasn't the first time that Rick Perry had given a big speech that challenged conservatives as well as liberals. Earlier in the summer, before Trump took hold, Perry delivered an address on race and economic opportunity that was praised by liberals like The Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore for its frank admission that black Americans had understandable reasons for voting Democrat, and that Republicans hoping to win their votes would have to respond not only with rhetoric but with policies designed to improve their lives. At the same time, the address was hailed by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board as "the speech of the campaign so far." The editorial praised Perry for laying out "a rationale and a specific agenda for how the GOP can earn—and deserve—the support of black Americans," and for pointing to real-world evidence from Texas that his ideas could work. Writing at National Review, Yuval Levin called it "an ambitious and impressive performance" that he hoped would "[set] the tone for the coming campaign. "

This was the campaign that Rick Perry wanted to run—a campaign built on substance; a campaign that was not afraid to challenge certain conservative orthodoxies, but also did not respond by simply adopting watered-down versions of liberal policies; a campaign that, at its best, could unite open-minded liberals and smart conservatives. And it was a campaign that, in a different race, might have at least helped nudge the GOP field in different, more substantive, direction. It might have helped set the tone.

But with so many candidates in the field, and Trump leading them all, it's been difficult for a candidate like Perry to stand out. At the end of July, Donald Trump accounted for a whopping 50 percent of all evening network news election coverage. Coverage like that just doesn't leave a lot of room for the other 16 candidates.

Rick Perry's campaign struggles aren't all Donald Trump's fault. Perry gives a good speech, and performs well enough on TV—which he's done a lot of. But he's not a great debater. And he was always going to have to overcome some of the negative perceptions that took hold in the 2012 race and helped take him out of that field.

Yet Perry was running a better, more interesting, more honorable campaign this time around. And while libertarians would have found plenty to disagree with (Perry is, among other things, more hawkish and more supportive of restrictions on immigration than most libertarians would be comfortable with), there are also elements to admire about his record as governor, from his record on job growth to his willingness (after some initial resistance) to back criminal justice reform that saved money and put fewer people in jail. He even shut down a prison.

Perry's record as governor of the world's twelfth largest economy is the foundation of his current campaign. As Avik Roy, a policy adviser to Perry (and friend of mine), told me Tuesday, the goal was to start with Perry's economic record in Texas and then build out a suite of big-idea policy proposals over the course of the run. Perry's campaign takes as its starting point the idea that, as Roy told me, "no state in America that has demonstrated the results of economic freedom better than Texas"—and then seeks to expand on that approach nationally.

"Our strategy," Roy said, was to "take the voters seriously." It's an admirable idea, and could have been Rick Perry's biggest strength as a candidate. Sadly, in a race so dominated by a thoroughly unserious figure like Donald Trump, it may turn out to be his biggest weakness.

NEXT: The Best Political Ad of 2015?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He needs to lose those glasses. Seriously. They ain’t gonna get him the hipster vote.

    1. Why? They look awesome.

      1. Considering you are the worst, that you think that doesn’t surprise me a bit.

        1. He needs to lose his statism.

          1. the absence of any mention of how Perry barely escaped indictment for corruption in Texas by defunding the law enforcemeng agency responsible for investing him is particularly noticeable in this love letter to the Texas pol.

      2. They make him look evil.

    2. At this point the presidential election is on the same level of seriousness as a typical high school student body presidential election. Those glasses make Perry look like a nerdy poindexter, while Trump is the stereotypical bullying egotistical loud-mouthed jock who, for some reason, is really popular (especially with the journalisim club). Of course no one’s going to vote for the poindexter with actual ideas when they can vote for the popular asshole.

      1. He’s popular because Daddy bought him a BMW and Air Jordans. He gets great seats to all the cool concerts, and even got to go back stage once at a Ratt concert. He also talks a good game, so the chicks get the vapors.

    3. How the hell is he going to maintain his secret identity without the glasses?

      1. It’ll be ironic when Candidate Rick Perry tearfully takes off his glasses during his concession speech leaving the race in a few months and everyone has that wide-eyed moment where they realize that he’s secretly been former-Governor Rick Perry all this time and was the one responsible for all that job creation, setting up prison reform, and fighting Metallo!

    4. sarcasmic — I agree. Does Perry think those glasses make him look like Clark Kent?

      The truth of the matter is, you have one chance at making a good introduction and Perry blew it last time with his forgetfulness. Just like Santorum blew it with his “You got to go along to get along” comment. The best thing these guys can do is drop out and save their time and money.

      And any republican candidate who still thinks it’s a good idea to carry on the Wars on Women, Gays and Drugs, they should drop out also. After 40+ years of fighting these wars and the only results being an impotent GOP and a strengthened democrat/socialist party , you would think they would get the message. Got that Huckster?

    5. They obscure his face, so they’re a big win as far as I am concerned.

    6. So what Suderman is saying is if anyone besides Trump had any charisma, then they too would be getting some attention.

      Peter, why do you even waste your time?

  2. Perry may be a bigger idiot than Trump. How about we elect a president who has held a job in the private sector and understands how to meet a payroll. Perry is intentionally a caricature of a conservative who can’t explain a small government philosophy because he doesn’t understand it himself. He’s basically a parrot. He’d still be a democrat if Texas was a democrat state.

    1. Perry is a POS who tried to cover up the fact that Texas executed an innocent man (Cameron Todd Willingham).

      1. so what. If he hadn’t died of that, he’d have died of something else.

    2. how to meet a payroll

      Well, state employees get paid too

      1. Yes, but a business needs people to voluntarily buy their product to get the revenue to pay the payroll. Key word voluntarily.

        I don’t know if my sarc meter is malfunctioning, but Christine Gregoire tried to tell people that as State AG Washington she effectively ran the largest law firm in the State.

    3. that leaves Trump, Fiorina, Carson, and Rand. Unless I’m missing someone, they are the only ones who held real jobs for any appreciable length of time.

      1. Wasn’t Huck a reverend or something?

        1. who held real jobs

          1. Since when is conning people out of their money not a real job?

            1. Hey, now! For all we know Huckabee might just have been in it for access to young boys.

              1. Huckabee strikes me as the “I am just in it for the congregation’s WAGs kind of guy”.

  3. The former Texas governor promised flatly that as president he would never bail out any Wall Street bank.

    Maybe that’s part of why he can no longer pay his campaign staff.

  4. People are forgetting who Perry is. Quick, let’s blame Trump.

  5. Trump 2016- At least he’s not an idiot with glasses, trying to create an obvious ruse that mocks totemistic voting public. He does that with his polling numbers.

  6. I do not believe Trump wants to be president.He would have to give up control of his ’empire’.He’s doing it for the attention.Maybe to make more money down the road.I do not see him putting his assets in a blind trust and appointing a C..E.O. to run his business.

    1. yeah the appointed CEO might actually pay his bills.

    2. he’s an expert at going bankrupt and stiffing creditors. iow he’s the man America needs.

      1. China go fuck yourself? Of course all the ‘loans ‘ are invested T bills ,and China need us more then we need them. When your whole economy is built on cheap exports and most of your people are poor you don’t piss off your importer.

        1. That is actually a good point. We are the most indebted nation in the history of the world. Electing a guy who specializes in fucking creditors President is not without its logic.

          1. True and most is internal.Still a problem ,but,the Chicoms don’t own most of the T bills and,btw,he will not make Mexico build anwall.He’s a fucking blow hard.

    3. How much direct control of his empire does he have now, especially that he’s campaigning for a job he supposedly doesn’t want? He has underlings managing the vast majority of it who report to him and he just gets dividends.

      If he becomes president, he’ll likely place his entire empire in a ‘blind’ trust managed by his most trusted underlings.

      1. If he ever became President, it would be a Bill Clinton level orgy of stealing. Trump would be America’s Berlusconi complete with the Bula Bula Parties. Trump would have the best shot of anyone of actually leaving office and going to prison. Remember, Trump is not part of the political class and would get none of the “we can’t indict the President” benefit of the doubt. In fact, if he won, sending him to prison would be exactly the kind of revenge the political class would take for the country having the nerve to elect him. Imagine being the US Attorney who sends a President Trump to prison. You would have books written about you and movies made showing your brave fight. And Trump is dumb enough and sloppy enough to hand them the sword to do it.

        1. Trump would be America’s Berlusconi complete with the Bula Bula Parties.

          Remember when there was a minor uproar about Obama taking selfies with the hawt-for-a-middle-aged prime minister of Denmark at Nelson Mandela’s funeral? Trump wouldn’t stop at selfies, he’d invite her back to his hotel room for some cocaine and butt-sex. Along with any other hawt world leaders, their wives, etc. He’d pretty much be the modern version of Caligula.

          1. I think you are massively underestimating how gay Trump is.

        2. He is a member of that lass,much of his money comes from crony capitalism.Just like the NBA,NFL,MLB,Warren Buffet,GM and on and on. And if your a large ,growing busisness you get on the crony band wagon and hire lobbyist to protect your company,and many to crush others in your way.He has always been,and always will be ,a crony ass.

    4. I do not believe Trump wants to be president.He would have to give up control of his ’empire’

      The Reason commentariat confronts Donald Trump

  7. Donald Trump accounted for a whopping 50 percent of all evening network news election coverage.

    That’s probably because Trump is clickbait, right? It couldn’t be because MSM wants to keep voter focus off R strengths and D weaknesses.

    1. Maybe,but most of the R’s are war hawks and crony’s.Love them some Iowa farm money and Walker love’s him some Buck’s b-ball.And most love them some NSA. On the D’s you have a power hungry women and a evil socialist.

  8. But enough about Trump, we’re sick to death of talking about Trump. I know, let’s talk about how Rick Perry compares to Trump.

  9. Perry’s speech, though, was peppered with wonky policy proposals

    Trump don’t gots the time for that fag talk. He is gonna get the Mexicans to build the wall and fight ISIS. Trust him.

    in a race so dominated by a thoroughly unserious figure like Donald Trump

    Unserious in first place lol. Suderman must be on the rag, too.

    1. In addition to talking like a fag, Perry’s shit is all fucked up.

  10. Most people who claim to support Trump have no idea what he supports. All they know is that he stood up to the media on the sanctuary city thing and seems to be waging war against both the media and the “GOP establishment”, whoever that is. His support is an emotional and visceral manifestation of his supporters’ sense of betrayal and hatred for both the media and Washington.

    I don’t think Trump will get the nomination. His continued popularity, however, shows how powerless the media is becoming. It doesn’t matter how valid the charges against Trump are. The media says every Republican is an evil sexist racist whatever. It is what they do. More and more people just tune this shit out and are happy to see a candidate stick it to the media.

    1. an emotional and visceral manifestation

      So you are saying he will win the nomination, because that seems to be how people vote.

      1. That is how people vote. But there are not enough people having that reaction to get him the nomination. If Trump were less of a clown and had real positions that appealed to people and also stood up to the media the way he is, he would win the nomination and likely the Presidency. People are fed up with Washington and they hate the media with a passion. The scary thing is that if we do get a real populist demagogue who means the country harm, they will likely be impossible to stop because the media has so pissed away any credibility it had with the country over the last 15 years.

        1. Even though I was joking, your follow-up is correct. If someone comes along that isn’t insane and taps into that anti-Washington, anti-Media hate, along with the populism, they could win it all.

        2. The scary thing is that if we do get a real populist demagogue who means the country harm, they will likely be impossible to stop because the media has so pissed away any credibility it had with the country over the last 15 years.

          This isn’t a recent thing. See Woodrow Wilson and the Roosevelts.

          1. Recent phenomenon or not, John hit the nail on the head. Trump’s popularity demonstrates how fed up people are with the lying liars and the lies they tell.

        3. Wish full thinking.

    2. Trump’s disdain for the GOP establishment and the liberal media has a peculiar appeal to limited government conservatives. It’s not so much that they like Trump; rather they dislike the objects of his disdain. Unfortunately, Trump is a buffoon, and his scorn is nothing but bluster.

      Most of his supporters fail to see, however, that Trump has all the authenticity of a WWE wrestling rivalry.

    3. To be fair to those people, Trump doesn’t know what Trump supports besides Trump.

      But he’s rhe Trumpiest Trump in the Trump. Trumpy!

      1. Trump Trump Trump Trump
        Trump Trump Trump Trump
        Trump Trump Trump Trump

        Give it a rest, already. I know, I know, the click bait is just too easy.

  11. Trump is at his ceiling. Anyone who doesn’t already support him is unlikely to support him in the future. Meanwhile, as the other candidates start biting the dust, support will start to coalesce around two or three alternative to Trump and Trump will end up running third or forth in every primary. Trump is in some ways similar to Ron Paul in that he is a candidate who has a core group of dedicated followers but little appeal outside of those followers.

    1. Trump appeals to limited-government conservatives because the GOP has utterly disappointed for the past 35 years. Sure, the combination of Reagan’s foreign policy and the inherent flaws of Marxism brought about the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, but that was 25 years ago. Since then, despite the end of the Cold War, the US government has done nothing but grow in terms of spending and regulation. Further, it expanded its use of police state tactics such as civil asset forfeiture, citizen surveillance, etc.

      When it had control of both the Presidency and the Congress, the GOP establishment enacted Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind; it promoted “compassionate conservatism” and “the ownership society” that corrupted the mortgage industry and gave us the 2008 financial collapse; it even pushed for steel import quotas and tariffs. Ultimately, the GOP establishment pushed TARP and bailouts of all sorts of cronies.

      The GOP establishment sometimes talk like they favor a limited government. In that regard, it is better than Democrats who openly proclaim a vision of expanded government to such an extent that they are now embracing red-diaper socialist. However, the GOP and the Democrats both do pretty much the same thing when in power. The only real differences are in their priorities and their cronies.

      1. YEs. Trump’s appeal is that he is telling the media and the establishment to fuck off. That is all there is to it. His actual positions or qualifications for the office have nothing to do with it.

        1. Perhaps tellingly, neither Trump’s nor Fiorina’s websites have an issues section.

        2. IOW, Trump appeals to vapid idiots who hate them some ‘establishment media’ villains.

          These people should not be allowed to vote.

    2. Unlike Trump, Ron Paul had actual IDEAS. Unlike Trump, he was a lone voice against the statism and authoritarian mentality that pervades both parties.

      The media did their best to ignore him and bury his message. And they succeeded. By contrast, the media absolutely loves Trump and can’t get enough of him.

      1. They don’t love Trump. They love Trump being a candidate.

    3. I don’t think so any more. Now I think his bandwagon’s rolling. Voters will start to identify, not so much with him, as with others who identify w him. He has high negatives, but not as high as he used to.

  12. The purpose of Trump is to get Hillary elected.

    1. That is not a bad guess. The only thing is that he only can get Hillary elected if he runs as a third party. That sounds easy but you have to get on the ballot. Perot stepped in and took over the reform party which had been operating for over a year and had done much of the leg work to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Trump has no such organization to step into. He couldn’t just decide to run for President as a third party next summer and be able to get on the ballot. The Republicans would no doubt play dirty and do everything they could to keep him off.

      He might be able to pull it off, but it would be hard.

      1. Donald Trump’s main task is to make the 2016 about immigration and, secondary, reignite the War on Women. He is having a lot of fun with both.

        He does not have to win the nomination. He just has to take down Bush III alternatives like Rand Paul who are trying to broaden the GOP’s appeal.

    2. Entirely possible. The fact that Bill Clinton apparently encouraged him to run was the least surprising news of the year.

  13. Trump has no such organization to step into. He couldn’t just decide to run for President as a third party next summer and be able to get on the ballot.

    Maybe he could run as the Libertarian candidate.


      Wouldn’t that be a pisser? You think Reason is butt hurt and obsessed with Trump now, let him run as a Libertarian.

  14. Clearly a lot of people don’t want to hear about ideas, they want a clown show, and Trump is giving them one.

    1. We elect class clowns as class presidents for the cynical and entertainment values. Why not a POTUS?

  15. I believe people underestimate the role of online trolls from the Obama and Hillary campaigns in steering the debate and perception of candidates.

    It wasn’t the ‘ooops’ moment that killed Perry in 2012; the “conservative base” had already turned against him, particularly on immigration (‘… heartless …’).

    Immediately after Perry entered the race, I noticed a lot of anonymous comments on various sites that all followed the same basic script:

    ‘I live in Texas/lifelong Republican/military … blah blah … we hate Perry here … blah … Gardasil … blah … immigrants … blah blah … Palin … ‘

    Remember that Perry was drafted into the race, after serious back surgery, to save the GOP from a weak field. He was not prepared for the circular fire squad he walked into.

    Why did conservatives turn against Perry – a very successful three-term governor of Texas, social conservative, etc. – with the hostility they did? Where did that come from?

    Also see this of course:

    ‘How I Helped Todd Akin Win ? So I Could Beat Him Later’ by Senator Claire McCaskill

    Donald Trump is a culmination of the tactics that have proven very successful for the Obamacrats in 2008 and 2012.

    And Rand Paul has been one of their main targets.

    1. I don’t think he is there to run as a third party. I think he is there to go after the stronger opponents for Hillary and to make the Republicans look racist and anti Hispanic. I think his entire campaign is a Hillary stalking horse, though I don’t think he will run as a third party.

      1. I agree. Just made the same point in response to your post above.

      2. Maybe we all need to start pushing Sanders to our proggie friends. He is utterly unelectable
        (another McGovern-type landslide) but him doing well could help destroy Hillary.

        1. Yes. The best thing about Sanders is that his support is almost entirely white. He has no chance of motivating blacks or Hispanics the way Obama did and thus could never recreate his coalition.

    2. As others have pointed out, it appears she violated FEC rules regarding coordinating campaigns with political opponents. I eagerly await the MSM to report on it and the FEC to investigate.

  16. The Butt Trumpet Effect.

    1. heh heh heh

      You said . . . Trump(et).

      1. What is happening to us? We’re becoming Beavis and Butthead!

  17. more supportive of restrictions on immigration

    I’ve noticed that, generally speaking, the closer you are to the border with Mexico, the more you support restrictions in immigration from Mexico.

    Texas and Arizona regularly lead the charge for immigration enforcement. New Mexico? Who knows (or cares). California, lets not forget, passed Prop 187 (which mainly tried to bar illegals from using state-funded services and was struck down by the feds).

    Weird, huh?

    1. It’s worth noting that while Prop 187 passed, it effectively wiped out the Republican Party in this state and has been totally dismantled by the courts.

    2. The Texas state GOP is not nearly as supportive of immigration restrictions as they used to be. They have moderated toward sanity. Also, Prop 187 was unpopular the minute after it passed. Enforcing it destroyed the CA GOP.

  18. Larry Sabato ranks the GOP candidates. His top 3 are Walker, Rubio and Bush. This interveiw is a hoot. You forgetting somebody, Larry?

    1. Trump is a cartoon character and a buffoon that I’d never vote for in a million years, but somehow he still manages to suck less than those three.

      1. Walker is still better than Trump.

  19. Just more evidence that Washington is Hollywood for the ugly.

  20. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  21. I think that I’ve finally figured out the “Trump Effect”. When Trump speaks he radiates a field that causes neurons in the vicinity to shut down resulting in stupification. Essentially, everyone who hears Trump is dumber as a result.

    Since I stopped listening to Trump I’ve not only found out that quantum mechanics is actually quite obvious but the day is brighter, my wife is prettier and I can sustain erections longer.

  22. After Trump flames out and they botch the 2016 elections, the GOP should purge him and his supporters from the party, and the state-GOPs should do the same. They should simply get the boot. At least then the establishment of the GOP would be good for something.

  23. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.