Governor Rick Perry’s appearance Friday night at the Texas Tribune Festival was followed by the publication of Oops!: A Diary From the 2012 Campaign Trail , an e-book by the Trib’s Jay Root. That got the chattering classes chattering, about both future Texas policy and Perry’s ill-fated run. Below, five takeaways.
Get Behind Him, Satan
During his Friday night conversation with Evan Smith, the Texas Tribune ’s CEO and editor-in-chief, Perry didn’t back away from his statements about Satan and the separation of church and state during a conference call with evangelical pastor Rick Scarborough.
As Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle reported:
“Let me go on the record as saying, I believe in Satan,” Perry said when Smith asked him about his recent comments that Satan is running across the world pushing untruths. Perry had said one untruth that’s out there is that people of faith shouldn’t be in the public arena.
“If you don’t want to think there is forces of darkness and spirits and spiritual warfare, that’s your call,” Perry said.
When the questions segued to budget issues, Perry quipped, “Now we can really talk about Satan.”
Stop Playing Around, Fifth-Year Seniors
According to Tim Taliaferro, who writes for the Unversity of Texas alumni magazine The Alcalde, the governor suggested that state universities should have fixed four-year tuition for incoming students:
Perry said he would push for a freeze so that incoming students can know exactly how much tuition will cost them if they graduate in four years. Students who have too good of a time and require a fifth year would then have to pay a higher tuition rate.
Taliaferro noted that the University of Texas at Dallas already does this, while also charging the highest tuition in the UT system.
Senate Higher Education Committee chair Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) told the Austin American-Statesman ’s Mike Ward that the idea has been discussed before, and should get further consideration.
“If you get out of the University of Texas with a $50,000 debt, I don’t know if we’ve served you well,” Perry also said.
Sleepless Nights, Oopsie Days
“I had every reason to believe I was covering the eventual Republican nominee,” Jay Root wrote In a story for the Trib and Sunday’s New York Times , which has two excerpts from Oops!. Instead:
I witnessed the birth of a whole new level of faux pas. Think of it as the political equivalent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Super-Gaffe, if you will.
(You might even call it a Bum Steer.)
But Root revealed that Perry’s poor debate performance, from the infamous “oops” moment to his rambling failed attack on eventual nominee Mitt Romney, may have been in part due to insomnia.
“I didn’t sleep a wink,” Perry is quoted as saying on the morning of September’s Orlando debate, while a Florida Republican who shook the governor’s hand that night said it felt like he had cold sweats.
Root wrote that Perry was eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea, a chronic breathing malady that may have flared up due to Perry’s back surgery, which disrupted his usual fitness routine.
According to CNN’s Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn, a spokesperson with Perry’s office confirmed Root’s report of “mild sleep apnea” during the campaign.
The (Slight Return) of “The Rumor”
Root’s e-book also revisits the rumors about Perry’s sexual preference … or rather, the fact that the Huffington Post had tried to dig them up again.
Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed zeroed in on Root’s behind-the-scenes dope.
In the book, Root wrote about discussing the story, which never ran, with Perry adviser Ted DeLisi.
Ted said Huffington Post reporter Jason Cherkis had e-mailed the campaign a list of questions about alleged gay liaisons. He said the reporter was going to name names, but there were serious questions as to the veracity of the allegations. Ted said that if the guy did publish something, Perry would sue. He said Perry would be owning a big chunk of AOL, the publicly traded company that owns HuffPo, if this came out. Ted seemed kind of pissed off at the media in general, saying that standards had obviously declined if this is what passes for news these days. Ted was clear that he thought the story was complete hogwash.
HuffPo’s efforts indirectly led to an e-book by former state representative Glen Maxey, the lege’s first openly gay member. “Maxey hates Perry with a passion and is trolling for gay dirt on him,” Root wrote in his diary at the time.
Fruit Gazpacho, Anyone?
And finally, the governor’s best (or at least most folksy) line of his Tribune Fest talk with Smith:
Austin is “the blueberry in the tomato soup” of Texas. -Rick Perry #tribunefest
— Aman Batheja (@amanbatheja) September 21, 2012