With Perry jumping in, it's looking like a three way race right now in the top tier. Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Perry. Romney is a quasi-frontrunner right now, but is by no means running away with this. There is a LOT of opposition to Mitt Romney for several reasons, most notably Romneycare. Bachmann won the Iowa strong poll and is very well known for her strong conservative stances in Congress.
Now comes Rick Perry, who did well in the straw poll as a write in who did not compete. That brings two questions. Who is Rick Perry? Can he win? The answer to the 2nd part is, yes.
Rick Perry is the Governor of Texas. Governors usually win elections to the presidency. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, and Carter were all governors. Before he was governor, he was Lieutenant Governor, which is a separate elected position than the governor in Texas (unlike Michigan). Before that, he served two terms as Agricultural Commissioner. He's held statewide office since 1990 in Texas. Rick Perry is a party switcher. That's not unusual in Texas, especially when his dad was a democrat county commissioner. He was a state legislator from 1984-1990. For five of those years, he was a democrat. He switched in 1989. Before election, he was a farmer for 13 years. At election time, there will be 28 years of experience, 20 of which is statewide executive experience. That dwarfs the Peter Principle in Chief.
From looking at his home of Haskell County on an elections map, it was still yellow dog territory there. It was Sam Rayburn country. His congressional district (13th ) was democrat for all except two years until the 84 elections. It went dem again from 88-94. Bush, from Midland, barely won Haskell County in his first election. Bush 50%, Gore 47% Bill Clinton, despite losing Texas twice, won it twice. Michael Dukakis won the county. Jimmy Carter won it twice. Ronald Reagan won it in the 84 landslide, and the next Republican to win that district was George W Bush. Bush and McCain both got over 60% against far left candidates like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Looking at where Perry's from, I can see where he was a late party switcher. Haskell County is not Midland County. That's ranch country, not oil country.
Perry's going to be attacked for his party switching. I look back at my own family in 1988. There were a lot more democrats, albeit many were Reagan Democrats, than there are today. People can change. One of the most hardline democrats in the family back at that period later had a Joe Hune sign in front of the house. Joe's no RINO, that's for sure. How I'd judge Perry's switch and whether it was a real party switch or a Arlen Specter type of double switch (D to R to D but being the same clown the whole time) is to look at Perry's record. He has a 20 year record as a Republican official. Perry can use the old line of the democrats leaving him. They are no longer the party of working families, but for rich leftists like Soros, Buffett, Hollywood, and Gates.
Some say that Perry will be like George W Bush. Not exactly. Perry was never really Bush's guy. In fact, by all accounts Bush quietly backed Kay Bailey Hutchison in the primary against Perry in the last election. He didn't publically make an endorsement, but Dick Cheney and George HW Bush did back Hutchison. From what I've heard, Bush and Perry aren't close, but you won't hear them say anything about it.
The media is going to try and paint Perry as "The social conservative candidate." When you have a 20 year record, you have a lot more than that in your campaign. I think Perry's best chance is to focus on the top three issues. Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs. It's the economy. That's the advantage has with Perry having a long record from Texas. Texas is in much better shape than a lot of states when it comes to the economy. That's where the growth is. One comment Perry made when asked if his campaign could sell in swing states like Pennsylvania is "I think people in Pennsylvania want jobs too." Perry's experience is what separates him from Bachmann. Perry can run on the economy, while also being a social conservative. Bachmann can run on as a social conservative activist who is also a fiscal conservative. The subtle wording is the difference between the candidates. It's the emphasis. I like Bachmann. I don't think she can win a presidential race right now. I'd like to see her stay in congress. We need her there. Perry won't emphasize the social issues as much as Bachmann, but he'll be reliable on life issues when needed. He is outspoken on the 2nd Amendment, and some coyote made the mistake of going near his daughters dog.
Compare Perry's experience as an executive to Obama. It's no comparison. 20 years (10 as governor) as a large state executive to 4 with the country. Economic matters? Anybody is better than Obama, but 40% of the new jobs have been created in Texas. Weakness - Perry is a Texas governor. So was Bush. Turn that into a positive. Perry's not Bush and had more experience on the state level than Bush. 10 years as governor against 6. Texas created jobs. Obama lost jobs. That's why Perry can win.