- Patrick's Charter School Bill Faces Test in House
- House Democrats: GOP Shifting Deal On Texas Budget
- Waco Tea Party Says It Was Targeted By IRS
- Hundred Of Texas House Bills Dead At Least For Now
- President Obama Arrives In Austin
- Texan Files Suit Against Federal Health Reform
- Lawmakers Consider Online Domestic Violence Database
- Keeping Repeat DWI Offenders Behind Bars
- Perry Jokes About Lawmakers OKing Budget He Likes
- Plan to Expand Charter Schools Clears Senate
- GOP Plan Uses $6 Billion From Texas Rainy Day Fund
- School Voucher Bill Headed To Full Texas Senate
- Texas House Panel Debates Fetal Pain Bill
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry Makes Surprise Visit To Senate Hearing
- Budget Turns To Texas House After Passing Senate
- Texas Bills To Increase Penalty For Hit And Run Crashes
- Texas Lawmakers Asked To Give More Protection To Cell Phone Records
- Texas Legislative Committee Debates Lesser Punishment For Marijuana
- George P. Bush Formally Enters Race For Texas Land Commissioner
- Texas Senate Committee Finds Beer Compromise
- Texas Senate Consider Changes To School Testing
- UIL Private Schools Bill Advances In Texas Senate
- Gallup: Texas Sets Record For Uninsured Rate
- Jeb, George P. Bush To Speak At Dinner In Texas
- Perry Stands Firm on Rejecting Medicaid Expansion
- Texas Agriculture Commissioner Staples Publishes Border Security Book
- Texas Senate Chair Calls For Changes To Health Budget
- Families Testify At Capitol To Real Dangers Of Texting While Driving
- Texas Gov. Perry Proposes Returning Excess Taxes
- As Teachers Lobby, Civic Group Seeks Broad Reform
- Texas Tribune: Lawmaker Explorer
- 83rd Texas Legislature Begins
- New iPads For Texas Lawmakers Could Save Taxpayers Money
- President Obama In Hawaii, Fiscal Cliff Standoff Behind Him
- Congress Ushering In New Members With Old Divide
- Cruz To Be Sworn In As U.S. Senator
- George W. Bush Praises Immigrants As He Opens Immigration Conference
- House Minority Leader Pelosi, Other Women Lawmakers Find Reporter's Question Offensive
- High Court Weighs New Look At Voting Rights Law
- Schieffer: Debate Moderators Get Too Much Focus
- Recap Of Vice Presidential Debate
- Ryan Slams Biden on Libya
- Vice Presidential Candidates Take Stage In Debate Tonight
- Spain Quip Adds To Romney's Foreign Policy Trouble
- Obama Calls On Congress To Act On Tax Cut, Housing
- Officials Reject Conspiracies On Unemployment Rate
- Fact-Checking The Obama - Romney Presidential Debate
- Obama Says Romney Would Cut School Funding
- Romney Looking At Different Caps On Tax Breaks
- Obama, Romney Clash On Economy In First Debate
- First Presidential Debate Tonight
- AP Analysis: As The Race Stands, Obama Within Reach Of Second Term
- Ryan Campaigns In Miami, Biden In New Hampshire
- GOP's Ryan Courts Miami's Cuban-American Voters
- GOP Paints A Nation On Brink, Dems See Rebound
- Mitt Romney
- Reality Check: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Campaign Ad
- Romney Turns To Ohio Amid Series Of Distractions
- Romney Reaches Out To Women Before GOP Convention
- Austinites Sound Off On Record Low Congressional Approval Rating
- Romney Names Paul Ryan His No. 2
- For Two Texas Leaders, An Uncomfortable Homecoming
- Texans Cautious After Runoff Election
- Texas Tea Party Underdog Win Makes National Headlines
- Texas' Cruz Goes From Longshot To Easy Victory
- Texas Land Commissioner says he'll run for Lt. Gov. in 2014
- Texas GOP Chooses Tea Party-Backed Cruz For Senate
- Texas Runoff Election Gaining National Attention
- High Early-Vote Turnout Leaves Question Mark For Candidates
- GOP Runoff In District 25 A Scramble For Votes
- Reality Check: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Campaign Ad
- Early Voting Starts This Morning For Runoff Races
- Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst To Debate Monday
- It's Expected To Be Anything But Business As Usual In Austin For Presidential Visit
- Perry Makes First Campaign Trip For Romney
- GOP-Controlled House Votes To Repeal Health Law
- Dewhurst Talks Priorities
- Say What? White House Adds To Its Payroll
- Texas AG Abbott: Court Health Care Ruling Not A Total Loss
- Say What? U.S. Attorney General Could Be Held In Contempt Of Congress
- Two Different Parties, Two Very Different Moods
- Ted Cruz Camp: David Dewhurst Stonewalling on Debates
- David Dewhurst Addresses GOP Convention Without Boos
- Rick Perry's David Dewhurst Nod Sparks Boos At GOP Convention
- Austin Mayor Wants To Postpone Urban Rail Bond Election
- Texas Gov. Perry Doubles Down On Dewhurst In US Senate Race
- Texas Primary Turnout Was Low, Runoff May Be Lower
- Lloyd Doggett Wins Primary Handily
- Dewhurst, Cruz Head To GOP runoff For Texas Senate
- Jana Duty Defeats John Bradley In Williamson Co. DA Race
- 2 Head To Runoff For GOP Nod To Replace Doggett
- Miller Advances To Runoff In Board Of Ed Race
- Mitt Romney Clinches GOP Nomination With Texas Win
- More Than 13M Texans Have Registered To Vote
- May 29 Primary Election: What's On The Ballot
- May 29 Primary Election: Polling Places
- Tomorrow Is Primary Election Day
- Primary Early Voting Ends Today
- May 29 Primary Election: Early Voting Locations
- Can Undecided Voters Sway The Election?
- State Sen. Wentworth Files Defamation Suit Against Challenger Jones
- KEYE TV To Survey Citizens About Election
- Dewhurst, Perry Vote In Primary Election
- Surging Hispanic Population A Growing Political Force
- Ron Paul: 'We will no longer spend resources'
- Early Voting Begins, Turnout Critical In Races
- Austin Reelects Mayor, 3 Council Members
- Total Voter Turnout Projected at 10% in Travis County
- Romney Urges Graduates to Honor Commitments to Family
- Voters Go To Polls In City/School District Election Saturday
- Anita Perry Joining Ann Romney at Austin Fundraiser
- Sarah Palin Endorses Ted Cruz In Texas Senate Race
- Austin Mayoral Candidate Interview: Lee Leffingwell
- Austin Mayoral Candidate Interview: Clay DaFoe
- Austin Mayoral Candidate Interview: Brigid Shea
- Austin Mayor Candidate: Brigid Shea
- Austin Mayor Candidate: Lee Leffingwell
- Austin Mayor Candidate: Clay Dafoe
- Gov. Rick Perry Interested In Running For President Again
- Gov. Perry To Texas Lawmakers: No New Taxes, Or Increases
- Ron Paul Texas Tour Rolls On
- Rick Santorum Suspends GOP Presidential Campaign
- GOP Voters in Wisconsin, Maryland, DC Go To Polls
- Former President GHW Bush Backs Romney In GOP Race
- George H.W. Bush To Formally Back Mitt Romney
- Romney's Y'all Turns Into You All
- GOP Candidates Refuse To Quit Race
- President Obama Unveils New Documentary Of First Term
- Santorum Wins Deep South; Romney Wins Hawaii
- Voters In The South Head To Polls
- GOP Candidates Eye The South
- Super Tuesday; Super Wins For Candidates
- "Joe The Plumber" On November Ballot
- Voters Hit The Polls For Super Tuesday
- Candidates Set For Austin Mayor, Council Elections
- GOP Candidates Campaign For Super Tuesday
- Federal Court Orders May 29 Primary Date For Texas
- Minority groups: New Texas voting maps 'devastate'
- Romney Wins Arizona And Michigan
- Redistricting Maps By Saturday Or Elections In June
- Santorum Holds Austin Fundraiser
- Governor's Plan to Run Could Impede Attorney General
- Judges Want Texas Maps In Time For April Primaries
- Sports And The Texas Redistricting Battle
- Water Conservation Ideas Offered For Texas Legislature
- Perry gives tainted campaign donations to charity
- Texas Gov. Perry Blasts Obama At Conservative Conference
- Santorum wins Minnesota, Missouri GOP votes
- Democrat Gibson drops out of Texas US senate race
- Mitt Romney wins big in Florida, routing Gingrich
- Composer Sues To Stop Gingrich Use Of 'Eye Of The Tiger'
- Democrats Try Again To Break The GOP Hold On Texas
- Attorney: Texas redistricting talks have stalled
- Candidates Cool Heels While Judges Decide Redistricting
- Testimony concludes in Texas redistricting trial
- Judge skeptical of Texas redistricting aide's testimony
- President Obama speech puts him in campaign arena
- Judges move up Texas redistricting arguments
- State rep asks Gov. Perry to repay Texans for GOP primary expenses
- Court throws out judge-drawn Texas electoral maps
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry drops bid for GOP presidential nomination, endorses Gingrich
- Texas continues case for keeping district map
- Republican candidates stump hard ahead of SC primary
- Texas defends redistricting map at federal hearing
- In the super PAC era, do handshakes even matter?
- GOP pack is trying to stop Mitt Romney before it's too late
- Jon Huntsman quits presidential race
- Texas Gov. Perry appeals judge's ruling on Va. primary ballot
- Texas Sen. Cornyn to speak on 'Washington's overreach'
- Perry in South Carolina: Will It End Where It Began?
- Appeals court says Texas can enforce abortion law
Perry in South Carolina: Will It End Where It Began?
Updated: Monday, February 13 2012, 09:19 AM CST
by Jay Root, Texas Tribute
WALTERBORO, S.C. — It was exactly five months ago that Rick Perry, with his trademark swagger and expectations as big as the state he governs, launched his presidential campaign at the historic Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, S.C.
The cradle of the old Confederacy seemed like a perfect match for the governor, the states’ rights-loving cotton farmer from Paint Creek, Texas, a southerner with rugged good looks and a bottomless pit of bureaucrat-skewering campaign lines.
“He talks like us,” one of his top supporters likes to say.
Now, as Perry prepares to roll back into Charleston this evening in the final stretch of his campaign here, those heady days following the Aug. 13 launch stand out as a stark reminder of how far he has fallen. Back then, Perry was the front-runner, and he had lined up an impressive campaign team here that included pros from George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaign teams, including Katon Dawson, ex-chairman of the state Republican Party, and former South Carolina House Speaker David Wilkins.
They are sticking with Perry even though he’s scraping the bottom of the GOP field right now. But cracks are beginning to appear.
A high-profile supporter defected this week to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and winner of the first two 2012 contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. Barry Wynn, an investment fund manager and top Republican donor, told The Associated Press he jumped ship because he couldn’t stomach Perry’s populist attacks on Romney.
As of Thursday, Perry had quit talking about Romney’s former corporate takeover firm, Bain Capital, which practiced what the governor had called “vulture capitalism.” But the public outcries from top conservative pundits — including Rush Limbaugh, who found the remarks comparable to a Fidel Castro tirade — have undercut Perry at a time when he can least afford it.
Dawson, a smooth-talking auto parts distributor who oozes South Carolina charm, said Wynn had made the decision to go with the “establishment candidate,” and he predicted Perry would start moving up in the polls over the next few days.
“My choice was to go with a full-throated conservative,” Dawson said. “I’m proud to be with a Texan.”
Perry Announces Presidency in Charleston, South Carolina from texastribune on Vimeo.
Two nationally televised debates, one scheduled for Monday and the other for next Thursday, will put the spotlight on the high-stakes South Carolina primary, which has accurately picked the Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan won it in 1980.
When Perry works voters one on one, it’s easy to see why he once led the field in the Palmetto State. At Shealy’s restaurant in Leesville on Tuesday night, Perry greeted each voter who stood in line to see him in the cramped room where he spoke. Sometimes he hugged voters, and he nearly always found some nugget of common ground for a short conversation.
He then worked the tables in the main dining rooms, where patrons who didn’t go see Perry in the adjacent dining hall still got a taste of the Texas governor, like it or not. Before he left, Perry slipped over to the buffet line and ordered fried chicken livers to go.
“He’s not from Washington,” said West Columbia truck driver Steve Price when asked why he supports Perry. Price predicted the governor would pull off an upset when the first southern primary is held a week from Saturday.
“Everybody hasn’t voted yet,” Price said. “These polls they talk about, that’s just a few people here and there. The 21stwill tell.”
Just as often, though, the voters who turn up at Perry’s rallies acknowledge he faces long odds in a state that his top campaign honchos once thought was in the bag. A comeback at this point would be nothing short of a political miracle.
“He’s going to have to work hard,” said Gene Bustard, a retired Christian bookstore owner who saw Perry speak at Stax’s Original Restaurant in Greenville. “He’s got a good story, but I don’t know if he has the momentum or the time.”
Some voters are surprised that Perry’s southern roots and record as the long-serving governor of Texas haven’t returned him to top-tier status.
“I’ve supported him from day one,” said retired information technology specialist Claude Chevalier, who saw Perry speak at Lizard’s Thicket in Lexington. “I can’t figure out why he didn’t catch on.”
Mark Tompkins, a University of South Carolina political science professor, said Perry could still make up ground if he can persuade voters to overlook his past gaffes and give him that “second wind” he says he wants from the Jan. 21 primary.
In the meantime, he said Perry is still paying for the mistakes made on the national stage.
“The debates, and resulting buzz, seem to be the main factor,” Tompkins said. “He was an unknown to many folks, and he defined himself by his own shortcomings.”
Perry, who has never lost an election, hasn’t let sagging poll numbers and naysayers stop him from giving it his best shot. He has embarked on a grueling series of campaign appearances, staging town halls, meet-and-greets and Main Street walks in what will be his longest uninterrupted stretch of campaigning — two weeks on the road without returning home — since he began the journey this summer.
Perry may have inadvertently crystallized the underlying theme of his presidential odyssey when he walked into a Walterboro gift shop Thursday afternoon and was told there were no stuffed black Labradors in stock.
“Man, I’m a day late and a dollar short,” Perry said. “Story of my life.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://trib.it/zzsZ3v.