Once a Democrat, not always a Democrat
Tue October 20, 2009 11:41 am

The Hutchison campaign's daily blast at Rick Perry is about Perry's Democratic past: He voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, he was co-chair of Al Gore's presidential bid in Texas in 1988. So what? If anything is ancient history, this qualifies. Furthermore, when you read what Perry had to say in various newspaper reports, it makes him look pretty good.

The Last Time Rick Perry Held An Event At The Hills Country Club He Discussed His Previous Years As A Democrat. “Gov. Rick Perry commiserated with Lake Travis Republicans on the occasional downs of being red (or Republican) in historically blue (or Democratic) Austin. ‘Good guys are usually outnumbered in Travis County,’ Perry told more than 200 guests at the Hills Country Club in the Lake Travis area. ‘It’s like being a member of the resistance movement in enemy territory.’ The former Democratic Texas House member said he switched years ago after liberals drove the party into the ditch. And telling activists they are winning the political wars, inch by inch, Perry concluded; ‘I look forward to the day the entire state of Texas is all red.’ [conclusion and citation omitted]

Perry “Said Votes … He Made As A Democratic State Representative Were Made To Show Support For The Democratic Leadership.” “But Perry said votes like those that he says he made as a Democratic state representative were made to show support for the Democratic leadership and inspired him to become a Republican later that year.” (R.G. Ratcliffe, “Sharp Blasts Perry Over Votes On Inmates, Taxes,” Houston Chronicle, 12/2/97)

Perry Voted For Jimmy Carter For President In 1976.
“In a five-minute speech about an hour before lunch, Perry told delegates that he and his family voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 because they thought he would be good for them and other farmers.” (Ross Ramsey, “Aggie tells delegates why he switched parties,” Houston Chronicle, 8/19/92)

Perry Was Texas State Co-Chair Of Al Gore’s 1988 Presidential Campaign. “[John] Sharp countered by noting that in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, Mr. Perry was co-chairman of Mr. Gore's Texas campaign. Mr. Perry acknowledged that but said there was a ‘push to get a conservative Southerner’ elected president.” (Sam Attlesey, “Link to Bush separates Perry, Sharp,” The Dallas Morning News, 9/15/98)

Perry Made A Campaign Trip On Gore’s Behalf. “‘On the surface, Al Gore appeared to be the more conservative of the candidates,’ said Perry, recruited by Lewis as a Gore campaign co-chairman in Texas. Perry said he made one campaign trip on Gore's behalf. ‘Fortunately, we found out who the real Al Gore was, and I was long on the side of the angels by then,’ Perry said.” (W. Gardner Selby, Op-Ed, “An Accidental Governor?” San Antonio Express-News, 1/28/01)

Perry voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976.
“In a five-minute speech about an hour before lunch, Perry told delegates that he and his family voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 because they thought he would be good for them and other farmers.”

Perry comes across in the Hutchison press release as somebody who is straightforward and open with his audience and unafraid to share details with them. It's rather appealing, and it's the Rick Perry I recognize from those days. (Where did that guy disappear to?) I don't see what the point of the e-mail release is. The Hutchison campaign isn't going to get anywhere by reminding people that Perry was a Democrat in precambrian Texas -- are they seriously suggesting that Perry is not 100% Republican today? -- and Perry's reflections (e.g., he was for Jimmy Carter because he was a conservative southerner) make him look good. This e-mail is a positive for the Perry campaign and a negative for the Hutchison operation.

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