Rick Perry’s exit sends a message

If the ex-governor could not get support and money, how much longer before the other lesser Republican lights withdraw?

Perry started wearing glasses, sending the message this was a smarter more engaged candidate [AP]
Perry started wearing glasses, sending the message this was a smarter more engaged candidate [AP]

Washington DC – And then there were 16.

Rick Perry is the first in a crowded Republican field to announce he is “suspending his campaign”, or, to put it another way, to say he admits he has no chance of winning the nomination.

The decision’s been coming.

His campaign stopped paying staff weeks ago.

At that point, some of the best talent decided to head off to other campaigns where they may share similar political views and support the candidate but, more importantly, they would get paid for their work.

Perry was never a top-tier candidate this time around, but many believe he had enough support and substance to make it through the summer.

This is the second time he’s tried to win the nomination.

Last time round, his entrance into the race came with a huge fanfare and a surge to the top of the polls.

A former air force pilot, who was also Texas’ longest serving governor, Perry attracted big money and influential supporters.

As a retail politician, there was no one like him in the Republican field.

A warm glow

One on one, people left feeling a warm glow and with the intention of casting their vote for Perry.

It’s no secret his campaign really fell apart after a disastrous debate performance.

When asked for the three departments of government he would close if elected President, he couldn’t remember the third.

Even with help from other politicians on the stage, he could only stumble along for what seemed an age, before letting out an embarrassing “Ooops”.

Although he was not a top-tier candidate, many believed Perry had enough support and substance to make it through the summer [AP]

Unfortunately if you are remembered as the guy who couldn’t remember three things, it doesn’t give people a great deal of confidence in your ability to handle arguably the toughest job in the world.

He stayed in the race until the first nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses.

He did terribly.

It seemed he would withdraw. But he went for a jog, prayed and came back to say he was staying in.

But that only lasted a few weeks before he dropped out ahead of the South Carolina primary, and backed a candidate who himself would only stay in the race a little while longer.

To be fair to Rick Perry, he went back to Texas and tried to get smarter.

He held policy forums and spoke to experts and learned about the things he would need if he wanted to run again.

New message

Cosmetically Perry started wearing glasses. It sent the message this was a smarter, wiser, more engaged candidate.

And on June the 4, in an aircraft hangar near Dallas, he announced he was once more running for president.

But in a campaign which is being swamped by coverage of Donald Trump, he couldn’t recapture even a fraction of the momentum from his last run.

Perry struggled to raise money and struggled to register more than a couple of percentage points of support in the polls.

He even failed to make the main stage at the first Republican debate. Instead he found a slot in the “happy hour” debate, and even there failed to shine.

Making the final decision, friends of Perry described him as a mixture of “disappointed and relieved”.

There is little consequence to his departure for the main race.

His big donors will easily find someone to take their money. And there is no huge swathe of the party who supported him who will now automatically transfer to another candidate.

His supporters will scatter through the field.

Three months ago I would never have predicted that Rick Perry would be the first to bow out.

It does, however, send a message to many of the lesser lights in the race.

If the former governor of Texas can’t get support and money, how much longer before they too decide or realise their efforts are a waste of time.

Source : Al Jazeera


There have been 19 televised Republican debates. They have been boring in parts, and repetitive. But they have also been hugely significant in shaping the battle for the nomination.

27 Jan 2012
More from Features
Most Read