Texas Governor Perry Seeks Deep Reduction of Federal Government

Posted December 28th, 2011 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Texas Governor Rick Perry has held the top leadership position in one of the largest U.S. states, since George W. Bush left the post in 2000 to assume the U.S. presidency. Perry is now the state's longest-serving governor.

Perry, 61, is campaigning on a pledge to reduce the size of the federal government. Political expert Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation policy research group explains that this makes him appealing to the ultra-conservative Tea Party supporters. “He wants to change Congress and make it more of a part-time Congress, and basically bring this country back to the basic first principles that many Tea Party members embrace,” Darling says.

Perry's plan includes eliminating three federal agencies, the Departments of Commerce , Education , and Energy . In a November 8 debate with the other candidates, however, Perry lost his train of thought and could not remember one of the agencies, even when prompted.

Liberal analyst Faiz Shakir of the Center for American Progress says that incident highlighted a history of gaffes in Perry's campaign. Says Shakir: “He created a very funny moment for himself, but I think more importantly it was emblematic of his entire campaign, which is something that hasn't had a ton of coherence.”

Darling admits Perry has made some “serious blunders” during the debates but says he could overcome those mistakes if he does well in January's Iowa caucuses.

Perry is campaigning on economic policy, holding up his record in Texas as an example of how he could improve the national economy. He has been an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration's health care reform plan. He is a conservative Christian and has supported a half-dozen high-profile anti-abortion bills that would make it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion in Texas. He also supports the death penalty. Texas has the highest rate of executions in the nation since 1976.

Perry served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1972 to 1977. Afterward he went into business with his father, farming cotton, until he began his political career as a Democrat in the early 1980s.

Perry served as a state lawmaker for six years starting in 1985. In 1988 he supported the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. Perry switched his affiliation to the Republican Party a year later.

Perry was elected lieutenant governor under George W. Bush and spent nearly two years in that position before then-President-elect Bush resigned in late 2000 in preparation for his move to the White House.

Perry is married to his high school sweetheart, Anita, and the couple have a son and a daughter, both in their 20s.