Today in Perry: Retirement, Primary Dates, and Signature Coffee
The road goes on forever and the campaign never ends . . . even if you're technically "retired."
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The Retiring Type
It was a scoop that doubled as a straight line. “Rick Perry has done something his opponents have been hoping he’d do for years: retire,” the Texas Tribune‘s Jay Root wrote. “But it’s not what the governor’s detractors had in mind.”
As Root reported Friday, Federal Election Commission ethics disclosure forms filed by the Perry campaign on Thursday revealed that the governor officially retired in January, and began collecting his “employee class” pension ($7,698 per month before taxes) while receiving his salary as governor.
It's all perfectly legal, Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said, but as Root (and many other journalists) reported the next day, it still had Perry's critics howling about "double-dipping," especially given the governor's stated positions on issues like high Congressional salaries and reforming Social Security.
"If Rick Perry claws his way past Newt," Politico's Ben Smith wrote on Twitter, "this is the frying pan that will hit him in the head."
The state's legislative maps (and a subsequent court-drawn interim map) have been tied up in federal court for weeks, leaving voters confused and legislators frustrated, but Texas finally has a bit of clarity about its 2012 primary election: the date has been moved from March 6 to April 3, with runoff races scheduled for June 5.
But, as Nolan Hicks of the San Antonio Express-News reported, there was in-party fighting over the decision. Perry's camp—and state Republican party leaders—wanted to split the primary and keep the presidential vote on March 6 while Republican lawmakers preferred a single primary date. Of course, there was no public outcry over the final deal. Campaign spokesman Catherine Frazier told Hicks that "Perry is ready to compete in the Texas primary whenever it happens."
Nevertheless, the move "could be a blow to Republican Governor Rick Perry's presidential hopes," reported Jim Forsyth of Reuters. "A likely victory in Texas on March 6 would have given Perry a surge of momentum on Super Tuesday, when 10 other states are holding primaries or caucuses."
Coffee is for Closers?
Here's something they could export to the state capitol gift shop: in Clear Lake, Iowa, the Cabin Coffee Company greeted Perry's campaign visit with the "Freedom and Liberty Blend," named, as ABC News' Arlette Saenz noted, after the words emblazoned on the governor's famous post-9/11 ostrich Cowboy boots.
At another coffee shop, the Sisters Mainstreet Cafe in Spencer, Perry chatted with Iowans about Texas's feral hog problem, Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines Register reported. Clayworth called it a "riveting conversation" with "10 retirement-aged residents."
“He’s just like someone who would come in here every morning and have coffee with us,” a man named Monte Johnson told Clayworth.
New Iowa frontrunner has the initials "RP," hails from Texas
But it's Ron Paul.
Sunday night Public Policy Polling released a new Iowa survey that showed Paul in first place almong likely Iowa Republican caucus voters, with 23 percent. Mitt Romney was second with twenty percent, and Newt Gingrich was third with fourteen percent. (Gingrich had polled 22 percent a week ago and 27 percent a week before that.)
Perry, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Santorum were all tied for third with ten percent. Perry had nine percent last week, but PPP noted that "there is some indication that Iowans are warming up to Perry a little bit. He's gone from a -4 (43/47) favorability to a +8 (48/40)."
Jon Ward of the Huffington Post said that "Gingrich deflation," has left Iowa's evangelical and socially conservative voters undecided, but they still aren't fully embracing Perry. "He's a good man. I don't know if he's conservative enough," one Santorum supporter said of the governor. Another called Perry, "a little light on the subjects."