SMU Experts: Rick Perry’s quest for the presidency

With Texas Gov. Rick Perry now running for the Republican presidential nomination, SMU experts in communications and ethics, political science and religion are ready to analyze what candidate Perry brings to the race.

DALLAS (SMU) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants to be the next president of the United States. SMU experts in communications and ethics, political science and religion analyze what his race holds for the GOP and the nation.

SMU Professor Rita Kirk
Prof. Rita Kirk 
“Populist Swagger”

"He can't avoid the press like he has in Texas. They, as you know, are on the bus. They're constantly in the face. They're drawing comparisons with other candidates. So, he's going to have to deal with the national press in a way that he hasn't had to do in Texas for quite some time."

“Say what you will about his policies, but voters will be drawn to his style,” Kirk says. “That will make a lackluster Republican race to date finally start to sizzle. “ Perry’s team will run the race his way, she says, bypassing traditional media.

“They refuse televised debates, knowing that debates serve mostly to rally the faithful rather than persuade the undecided. His populist swagger is his brand. He preaches American exceptionalism, and he drives his message directly to the voters, avoiding the media interpreters who have traditionally controlled the flow of information. Good hair, a smiling Texas drawl and Air Force comportment – he is telegenic.” 

Kirk is director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of Communications Studies.

Matthew Wilson
Matt Wilson 
“Late to the Table”

“As a late entrant, it's not entirely clear exactly where Perry can start winning caucuses or primaries. To win a presidential nomination, you have to start winning early on in the primary/caucus season. Bachmann has worked Iowa hard and has a natural geographic link there, while Romney will dominate New Hampshire and Nevada.

"That means Perry's candidacy probably hinges on a convincing win in South Carolina, which he would then need to follow up with a victory somewhere outside the South to be perceived as more than a regional candidate. It's a tall order, but Perry has been underestimated, often to the detriment of his detractors, throughout his political career.”

Wilson is associate professor of political science in SMU’s Dedman College.

Bernard Weinstein
Bernard Weinstein
What Luck's Got to Do With It

"He’s been lucky (on the Texas economy). Obviously, neither the governor nor public policy in Texas has pushed oil prices up, and clearly the technological innovation has created a whole new industry in Texas."

Weinstein is an economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute. He is the author or co-author of numerous books, monographs and articles on economic development, public policy and taxation.

Cal Jillson
Cal Jillson
“Pitch Perfect” for Texas

"Perry's tactical problem is that he has to stay hard right to take the tea party and social conservative votes from [Michele] Bachmann and then defeat [Mitt] Romney as the true conservative. He will move some to the center even as he confronts Romney, but whether he can then tack enough to the center to win a majority of moderates and independents remains to be seen."

"Rick Perry has been an extraordinarily successful politician; he never lost an election, has good fundraising and campaign skills, with campaign rhetoric that is pitch-perfect for Texas. But whether his considerable skills will fuel a jump to the national level remains to be seen. Organization and fundraising should not be a problem, but a hard Texas edge on the social issues and a deer-in-the-headlights naiveté on international and defense issues may be serious problems.”

Jillson is professor of political science in SMU’s Dedman College and internationally recognized expert on Texas and national politics.

William Lawrence
William Lawrence
Day of Prayer

“His allegedly spiritual interest in holding a prayer service in Houston is yet another example of his disdain for people of sincere faith. As a result of his contempt for theological veracity and spiritual legitimacy, his plans to conduct a ‘day of prayer and fasting for our troubled nation’ amount to a violation of the second and third commandments; for he is proposing an event that will make an idol of his own political views and that take the name of the Lord in vain.”

Lawrence is dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. His comments first appeared in the July 12 edition of the Texas Faith blog of The Dallas Morning News.

Dennis Simon
Dennis Simon
“Let’s Make a Deal”

“As Rick Perry contemplates a run for the Republican presidential nomination, the recent history of Texas aspirants suggests a game of  ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ Behind door number one is George W. Bush – fundraising juggernaut and a successful nomination campaign.  Behind door number two is Ron Paul – symbolic leader of libertarian Republicans. Behind door number three is Phil Gramm – big money, big losses early and a big fizzle. Which door will Governor Perry enter?”

Simon is associate professor of political science in SMU’s Dedman College.

satellite broadcast iconSMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. 
To book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News and Communications at 214-768-7650.


News Media Contact:

Nancy George
Cell: 972-965-3769