All right, then, who is going to carry the standard of fiscal responsibility into battle with Barack Obama? Something like this was the question that the editors of the Indianapolis Star asked when Mitch Daniels, their governor, decided to spare his family the public shaming of a presidential campaign. And a public shaming would have been inevitable. As John points out, the Obama reelection team is raising millions with one aim in view: to destroy the eventual Republican nominee. The New York Post reports this morning that all the president’s men are already digging up dirt on Governor Chris Christine.
Christie, though, has repeated again and again that he will not be running for the White House this time around. Representative Paul Ryan is the obvious one to pick up the standard that Daniels has dropped. But Ryan too has repeatedly ruled out a presidential bid, while nearly endorsing Daniels. With three children under the age of ten, Ryan has even more compelling family reasons to stay out.
Daniels’s departure opens a lane for Texas governor Rick Perry. With no other Southern governor interested in the office—now that Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee are out—Perry is well-positioned for a presidential run. He is chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He governs a state that will gain four more electoral votes in the next election. His record in Texas, especially on the economy, stacks up favorably with Daniels’s in Indiana. Moreover, the lack of ego that Linda admires in Daniels (perhaps the burning ambition too) is not a lack with Perry. Over at The Daily Beast, Mark McKinnon predicts that the shakeup of the Republican race will “create a Texas tornado-size draft for Rick Perry.”
The rap against him is that the American people will not be ready for another Texas governor in the White House just four years after George W. Bush. As Ross Ramsey wrote in the New York Times last Thursday, the similarities between Perry and Bush in speech and mannerism are startling. “Chances are,” Ramsey says, “he’ll remind people of Mr. Bush if he starts appearing regularly on national TV.” The irony is that Perry has a complicated relationship with the Bush family, as Kevin D. Williamson observed in a profile in National Review last month, “which is to say that he’s hesitant to criticize them and they hate his guts.”
Nevertheless, Perry enjoys advantages. He not only shares the view of Daniels and Ryan that the U.S. is accelerating toward bankruptcy under Barack Obama, but he has personal reasons for dreading four more years of the same. Perry blames the president for ignoring drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, refusing to declare parts of wildfire-ravaged Texas a disaster area, and trying to dictate the state’s priorities through the “harum-scarum scheme” of stimulus spending. “This administration needs to be responsive to the people in the state of Texas,” he seethes. Perry may soon decide that the best way to save Texas from Washington is to move there—as president.