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Rick Perry Myths, Facts, Half-Truths: A Guide

| August 20, 2011

rick perry texas memories of bush administration

Memories of the Bush Administration.

Rick Perry has made plenty of headlines since he announced his presidential bid. But with the deluge of day-to-day coverage, it’s hard to get a sense of his actual record. We’ve selected some of the best reading on Perry to help you get oriented.

The basics

If you want to go beyond the bio on Perry’s campaign page, Texas Monthly reporter Paul Burka’s guide for Yankee journalists is a good place to start. It’s a list of eight insights gleaned from covering Perry since the 1980s, including the ways that Perry has reinvented the role of governor in Texas, and how his rural upbringing has shaped his politics.

Perry is considered one of the most conservative 2012 GOP contenders. An interesting story in the National Review details how Perry is more conservative than his predecessor, former President George W. Bush. (The piece also dishes on Perry’s tense relationship with Bush.) Perry is also known for being among the first politicians to embrace the Tea Party movement. Perry believes that homosexuality is wrong and has written about how secular humanism is bad for society. He has expressed skepticism about many Federal government programs and has called Social Security “a Ponzi scheme.”

At a rally in 2009, Perry told reporters that Texas might secede if it got too fed up with Washington. Perry’s campaign said this week that Perry does not advocate secession.

The Texas Observer also details Perry’s ties to the New Apostolic Reformation movement, a strain of Christian belief in which politics and faith are intertwined.

Perry is also skeptical of evolution. While campaigning in New Hampshire this week, Perry told a 9-year-old boy that evolution is a “theory that’s out there” that’s “got some gaps in it.” He also said that Texas public schools teach both evolution and creationism. TPM reports that teaching creationism in public schools was ruled unconstitutional in 1987.  (Updated 8/18)

A 2006 profile in the Dallas Morning News gives us a look at Perry’s early life and how he got into politics. To gain insight into Perry as a campaigner, Texas Monthly interviewed several people who’ve run against him and lost. The Texas Tribune profiles the people in Perry’s inner circle.

Overview of his record as governor

What did Perry actually do during his decade-long stint as Texas governor? One of Perry’s most-touted accomplishments as governor has been job creation. In his presidential announcement speech, he said:

Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America. Now think about that. We’re home to less than 10 percent of the population in America, but 40 percent of all the new jobs were created in that state.

But it’s unclear to what extent Perry’s policy decisions were responsible for creating those jobs. The Austin American-Statesman lays out all the factors that went into Texas’ economic success over the past few years. Yahoo! News took a closer look at jobs data and found holes in Perry’s narrative that limited regulation of business was the major driver of Texas’ economic growth. Yahoo! and others have noted that part of the growth was driven by the state and local governments, which have actually added many jobs.

The National Journal has an overview of Perry’s performance on the economy, education and health insurance, accompanied by some useful charts. The Journal found that Texas still has a high poverty rate, despite the strong jobs figures, and that the state’s high-school graduation rates are below the national average. The contributors to Ezra Klein’s blog put together a series of critical posts evaluating Perry’s record on balancing the budget, creating jobs, Medicaid and the environment. Perry’s PolitiFact report card shows a mixed record when it comes to making accurate statements.

Skeptical stance on global warming

Perry has long expressed doubts about the science behind climate change. This week, he accused climate scientists of manipulating data for profit and claimed that a growing number of scientists question whether man-made global warming is really creating climate change. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker found the claims to merit a full four Pinocchios: Perry “has every right to be a skeptic—all scientific theories should be carefully scrutinized—but that does not give him carte blanche to simply make things up.”

Scandals and controversy

Dallas Morning News investigations over the past two years have detailed some questionable financial transactions between Perry and his political allies. According to a July 2010 story, Perry made as much as $500,000 in a real-estate sale that raises questions about “favoritism, backroom dealing and influence-buying.” Perry’s staff responded that the deals were perfectly appropriate and legal.

The newspaper also reported that Perry gave more than $16 million in Emerging Technology Fund grants to companies with executives or investors who’d contributed to his campaign. More recently, the Los Angeles Times took a broader look at the perks that Perry’s major donors have received during his time as governor. Perry denied that politics influenced how he awarded the technology grants, and his aides told the Times that his donors don’t get special perks.

Perry came under fire for a 2007 proposal that all young women in Texas get the HPV vaccine. The Texas Tribune has a good summary of the controversy, including claims that Perry had close ties to the vaccine’s manufacturers. Politico’s Ben Smith obtained 700 internal emails from Perry’s office related to the HPV decision. The emails suggest that Perry wasn’t actively involved in discussions about implementing his proposal.

Perry is also accused of allowing death-row inmate Cameron Todd Willingham to be executed despite evidence that Willingham may have been wrongfully convicted. The New Yorker has a gripping narrative of the case, and the Texas Observer details how Perry helped limit an investigation that followed. A Perry spokesperson told The New Yorker that “the governor made his decision based on the facts of the case.”

How to follow Perry developments in real time

The Morning News has a feed dedicated to Perry coverage and a Perry Watchers list. You can also follow veteran Perry reporters on Twitter: Evan Smith (@evanasmith) and Jay Root (@byjayroot) of the Texas Tribune, and Paul Burka (@paulburka) and Jake Silverstein (@jakesilverstein) of Texas Monthly.

Following the money—and diving deeper

The Texas Tribune has stats on his performance in past campaigns and financial statements going back to 1993. If you want to dig more into the coverage, several Texas publications have set up Perry resource pages, including the Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, the Texas Tribune and the Dallas Morning News.

Braden Goyette, ProPublica

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25 Responses for “Rick Perry Myths, Facts, Half-Truths: A Guide”

  1. Stan Buchholtz says:

    I did not think that any politician could be much worse than George Bush, but I find myself wrong again!
    It is remarkable that Perry places himself on the opposite side of all things credible, and believes himself to be a viable candidate to the highest office of the land. Any reasonably clear thinking person should find the likes of him quite frightening.

  2. billy jack says:

    Another Liberal mag/rag exposed, this will go the way of most other liberal rags and die from lack of interest.

  3. Ella says:

    Ok, if you are a Republican (or just a plain old American) and want to get folks off public assistance, maybe a job creator is the way to go? At least CONSIDER a person who wants to put people to work rather than destabilize the middle east and raise oil prices, etc… Yes I know it isn’t Obama raising prices directly but do you really think middle eastern countries (that control vast amounts of oil) are happy with a guy telling every leader over there he should “step down” ?

  4. Rob says:

    That’s why I think I will go with Michelle Bachmann!

  5. Jerry M says:

    Anything will be better than the current obamanation that we now have to contend with on a daily basis.

  6. Alex says:

    Regardless who get elected we are and will be in trouble. No one have the answer.

    The system is no longer functioning.

    The stimulus was an attempt to prime the financial pump to get the pump (economy) going. The pump is not working, the pump is dry. .

    We are following Japan toward no growth, joblessness and stagflation or even perhaps toward a major shrinkage.

    Who would really want to be in charge of such a nation?

  7. Christie 2012 says:

    I would take Jimmy Carter again over Presbo. This guy is in a class of his own when comes to the worst president ever. This country will not survive four years of him.The more I read about Perry, the more I would be inclined to vote for him. Please keep us informed Flagler Live. He seems to spot on with so many issues.

  8. NortonSmitty says:

    At last! The Texas Governor for the folks that found George W. too fucking cerebral! Thank you Jesus!!!!

  9. PattiAnn says:

    Bachmann is a scary one and way too far right for me. Perry another Bush IMO. I’ll take Ron Paul who keeps saying the same things that need to be done over and over. IMO he makes sense.

  10. Layla says:

    I see more “half truths” in this article. “Perry is considered to be the most conservative of the 2012 candidates”. Really? And he still managed to be Al Gore’s campaign manater? There is also that now famous partical comment about seccession. Suggest you look for the rest of that comment.

    Interesting to me that people are so frightened of this individual. Suggest you do your own homework on this one and ALL CANDIDATES.

  11. ol'sarge says:

    How is this an unbiased quick look at Perry? This is as unbiased as a Fox News report!! You have written only negative things, and even when you did list something positive, you managed to put a negative spin! This, of course, is fine in an editorial. However, you are touting this as some sort of quick guide to help voters make a decision…shameful. I have always enjoyed flaglerlive, but you fooled me…I didn’t realize you had an over the top liberal agenda.

  12. Yogi says:

    Articles like the one above are designed for one purpose, to fan the flames of emotion in both liberal and conservative camps. I don’t see any substance here that warrants any serious consideration for me to evaluate Rick Perry. What I do see is a self serving piece of propaganda designed to draw interest for the sake of boosting site performance and revenue from advertisers. This is the new game in the 21 century. Slash, bash, blame, destroy for profit.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Our politics are sick indeed. Writing in The Times yesterday the author Kurt Andersen noted how “the most troubling thing about Perry (and Michele Bachmann and so many more), what’s new and strange and epidemic in mainstream politics, is the degree to which people inhabit their own Manichaean make-believe worlds. They totally believe their vivid fictions.”

      Some of the comments in response to the Rick Perry piece above make the point very vividly.

      I don’t mind analytical criticism that makes a point and advances the conversation. I do mind mis-informing slanders spouted off for no other reason than because of the appearance of an article not being dogmatically aligned with the commenters’ idea of reality (or irreality, as the case may be). As Andersen also notes, repeating that old saw, you have the right to your opinions, but not to your own facts. I doubt that those of you who’ve bashed up this piece by Braden Goyette bothered to read it through, let alone clicked on its links. ol’ sarge, you’re exhibit one here. There are some 20 sources cited in this article, all with direct links to the original articles, including National Review, Fox News, and Rick Perry’s own website. It would take many hours to go through them all. The sources are as varied as you can get in this day, and many of them lead you to more sources and articles. There are no conclusions here, no ideological slants, no attempts to sway: merely to give you a long and broad list of sources and perspectives on what may be the most interesting Republican candidate of 2012, whatever you may think of him.

      But a few comments above couldn’t better underscore the sickness Andersen is referring to: we’ve become so immune to facts, so infatuated with our own conceits and make-believe worlds of ideological purity and fanatical beliefs, that even when a piece proposes to do the very opposite–to provide an overabundance of sources and facts and perspectives from innumerable angles, it’s clawed by the same narrow-minded, malinformed sniping that these pieces are attempting to counter-act. No wonder we’re in a political cesspool.

      Example: yes, Rick Perry was Al Gore’s campaign manager in Gore’s 1988 run for president (not 2000). Back then Al Gore’s politics would have been indistinguishable from those of Goerge W. Bush’s later on. He was more Republican than Democrat. That’s beside the point. Rick Perry began his political career as a Democrat, just as Ronald Reagan began his political career as a very liberal Democrat. Then they switched. Converts tend to be the more fanatical believers, as indeed Reagan and Perry turned out to be with their newfound conservatism. Al Gore veered left. Rick Perry veered right. But so what? How do these incidental evolutions matter in an article that aims primarily to inform to excess? (Some of those links, incidentally, trace back Rick Perry’s very interesting evolution as a young politician.) And yes, objectively, Perry is the most conservative of the serious 2012 candidates.

      And Yogi, you’ve made a specialty, behind your Flinstone-era anonymity, of sniping at whatever doesn’t align with your Birchian branches without actually presenting interesting ideas, counterpoints, information, perspective—whatever. You come up with that cockamamie old bore about boosting site performance, though if an article as rich and demanding of readers as this one on Rick Perry boosts readership, great: I’ve done my job as an editor. It’d be far easier and less costly in time and money to generate clicks through the latest celebrity gossip and YouTube virus and ideological porn. But judging from the thousands of readers who come here for our endless articles about local government and economic development and Bunnell’s twilight zones and the tourist development piece coming out later today, it seems there’s a hunger out there for news that matters a little more to our lives. Even broad-ranging articles about Rick Perry. I’ll take that sort of performance-boosting click any day. If that bothers you, no one is asking you to contribute your own clicks here. Believe me, we don’t need to beg for them.

  13. Layla says:

    OUCH! hit a tender spot! Seems to me you broke your own rules, Pierre. There is no way we are all going to agree. It doesn’t mean we have to get nasty.

    I thought the sign of good journalism was not to allow your politics to show?

    One thing we can all agree on….we need to calm down and be able to discuss these things without insulting one another.

    I still disagree on Perry being the most conservative. Bashed up the piece? I offered a differing opinIon. I am sorry if you found that so offensive.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Layla, again with the mis-characterization. Must be something in the water. Where exactly did you see that I was looking for agreement? To the contrary. There’s nothing duller to me than an echo chamber, whatever its sounds. That’s why we encourage debate and disagreement, which you see richly reflected in articles and comments (in part thanks to the likes of you, for whom I’m grateful). But when our writers are targets of flat-out misinformation and mis-characterizations, we’d be nuts not to set the record straight. Call it nasty if you like. I call it occasionally reminding sloppy commenters that anything does not go here. Facts and opinions are not the same, nor are all opinions, when baseless, created equal. Keep in mind, commenting here is nobody’s “right.” There’s a measure of responsibility that comes with the territory. Read the policy. We’ve also never hidden our perspective or pretended to have none, the way some of your more foxy outlets tend to. Our mission statement is explicit: “While all perspectives will be welcomed, FlaglerLive will have a decidedly progressive voice and philosophy.”

  14. Layla says:

    One of the things I love about your site the most is the number of people who finds themselves agreeing on the issues, not knowing (except for you) of their party affiliation.

    Warms the cockles of my heart.

    As for the water, I tend to think it is the full moon. Going outside to play now.

    (Did you really think Ronald Reagan was a fanatic? I loved his warmth. Didn’t care about party politics in those days…)

  15. NortonSmitty says:

    I don’t see how you Republican clowns can read this article and see a hatchet job. The writer laid out the high and not so high points of the mans terms in office. If he comes across a a shallow, vile pandering opportunistic idiot, well… As my Dad used to say, you can’t polish a horse turd.

  16. Riley says:

    What is it about Texas politicians, the water or lack of water. Or perhaps they were knocked up side the head to many times as children. I had a boss once who was a dumb-ass and talked just like Rick Perry.
    Please, whatever happens, at all cost, don’t let the dumber than a fifth grader get the nomination. She gives me a migraine.

  17. PJ says:

    I don’t get it? Flagler Live is a platform to voice from. If you don’t like writting style of Peirre then don’t read Flagler Live. Move on if you can’t take Peirre’s commentary. I’m not even trying to defend him or the future of Flagler Live but I’d rather have the option to say my peice and at my option to do so when I feel like the time to comment is right.

    On Gov. Perry! Another Bush but worse. I not afraid to say I’m a republican. I’m not happy about the county, the state of the republican party but the choices are just pathetic. Obama needed more experience and a better economy to say he is a great leader or for that matter even a good leader.

    The question is how do we fix our economy? What about the middle east? What about China? Is Russia even in the mix anymore? Social Security what about it? what about the people of America?

    what ever the outcome of the election will only deceide on thing. The USA will always have a President…

  18. NortonSmitty says:

    Here’s six stories you should read about the new Great Right Hope. I really like the one about him replacing three people on the commission that recommended a review of the facts that would have delayed the execution of an innocent man. Evolution, execution, whatever. Can’t let those pesky facts get in the way of your values!

  19. Sam says:

    Opinions are like a–holes, everybody has one. There is never going to be a politician who is going to please the masses. However, if we don’t get “Obammie” out of office, we will not have a country worth saving in another 2 years. Vote for ANY candidate except for ” Obammie”.

  20. The America says:

    If you want some good information regarding Rick Perry look up the Bilderbergs and all the members and
    Americans involved in this secret organization that is trying to take down the USA and make it a one world government. You will find Rick Perry involved with it. Watch out who you vote for
    In 2012 if you like your freedom and want the government out of your business.

  21. NortonSmitty says:

    Remember when Obama was running for president, he left an airplane full of media take off while he snuck off “For a little downtime”? Remember the hissy-fit the reporters had? Turns out he went to the Bilderberg annual meeting at the DC Hyatt. Surprise! Wonder what he discussed while resting?

  22. Riley says:

    NEW WORLD ORDER!!!!!!!!!

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