Gov. Rick Perry Inches Closer to Republican Presidential Run

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jul 18, 2011   |   10:36AM    Austin, TX

Texas governor Rick Perry, who is pro-life, is inching closer and closer to announcing he will officially enter the Republican presidential contest. Speculation is running rampant that he will join the crowded field in the next few weeks.

Perry himself addressed the question over the weekend — telling the Des Moines Register newspaper that he is even more likely to run for the GOP nomination against pro-abortion President Barack Obama than he previously indicated.

“I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in,” he said. “But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do.”

Perry’s entrance into the race would shake up the polls as he is already polling in the top 5 in most national and early state polls where he has been included as a possible candidate. His ability to put together a strong campaign organization, his broad Texas fundraising base, and his experience as a state legislator and a three-time governor give Perry an edge that some political observers say can take him all the way to the nomination.

Some pundits suggest Perry will not enter the race until after the Ames, Iowa straw poll the second weekend of the month. Doing so would allow him to skip the highly-publicized event and not run the risk of finishing low in the straw poll because he only recently announced.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is running as a pro-life candidate after supporting legalized abortion as governor, remains as the Republican front-runner — in terms of standing in the national polls and polls of early states, fundraising, media attention, and organizing and campaign structure. The Republican presidential race, in some respects, has become a race to become the top Romney alternative as pro-life candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann compete for that position.

Other candidates in the Republican field include pro-life businessman Herman Cain, pro-life Rep. Ron Paul, pro-life former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, pro-life former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, pro-life former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and pro-abortion former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

As a pro-life advocate, Perry has blasted pro-abortion President Barack Obama on pro-life issues and did so most recently at the United for Life event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles in June.

He hit Obama for overturning the Mexico City Policy during his first week in office. That’s a policy that prevents taxpayers from funding groups like the Planned Parenthood abortion business under international programs. Planned Parenthood has promoted and performed abortions in other countries and the Mexico City Policy, first instituted under President Ronald Reagan, cuts off their funding internationally and directs it to programs that provide legitimate help and support for poor people in other nations.

Perry said that, 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.”

On embryonic stem cell research, he said Obama was “turning the remains of unborn children into nothing more than raw material,” according to an AP report. Obama is ignoring “the overriding responsibility of every government — that is to protect citizens at every stage of their lives, especially those who cannot protect themselves,” Perry said.

Perry’s name became more prominent as a potential presidential candidate thanks in part to a mass exodus of top level staffers for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich 2012 campaign manager Rob Johnson quit along with top strategists and Johnson was a former campaign strategist for Perry’s gubernatorial campaign.

Conservative and mainstream media reporters speculated and provided considerable evidence that Perry is likely to benefit from the departures and that he is closer to declaring he will run for the Republican nomination than ever before — even though he has leaned against it in the past.

Perry has pleased pro-life advocates in Texas many times with signing pro-life legislation — most recently signing an ultrasound bill allowing women to see them before an abortion and hopefully changing their minds on it.  He has been strongly supported by pro-life groups. Perry supported or signed into law the Women’s Right to Know Act and the Prenatal Protection Act in 2003, parental consent law in 2005, and funding for alternatives to abortions in 2007 and 2009.