It’s likely that, given the tainted GOP field, Marco Rubio will get another look from conservatives seeking a 2016 standard barrier. If so, it seems only fair that Rick Perry, if he chooses to run, should get another look too. And the strongly positive response Perry received following his speech to CPAC this week suggests that conservatives may well be willing to consider Perry again.
Actually the two potential candidacies raise different questions. Rubio fell out of favor for a substantive reason — his sponsorship and lead role, along with Chuck Schumer, in pushing for amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Perry fell off the map because of poor debate performances and other such shortcomings as a candidate in 2012. (Perry was also hurt by his willingness to cut illegal immigrants educational breaks, but he didn’t support amnesty or a path to citizenship).
It should be easy, then, to take a meaningful second look at Perry. If he runs, he will either perform well in debates and on the stump or he won’t. We should learn pretty quickly if what we saw in 2012 is what we will get in 2016.
Even if Perry campaigns well, he won’t be the candidate of choice for the conservative base, his reception at CPAC notwithstanding. Sure, Perry has governed a huge state successfully on a largely conservative basis for 13 years. But he hasn’t done anything heroic like protecting us from drone attacks on Main Street or pushing for a partial government shutdown that offered no prospect of accomplishing anything.
Perry would instead provide an alternative to Rand Paul and Ted Cruz on the one hand and Chris Christie or a similarly center-right choice on the other. That seems like a space from which a credible candidate could make a credible bid.