The Battle for America 2010: Are the Eyes of Perry on Washington?

Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in the history of the state of Texas, appears to be positioning himself for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign has been orchestrated to include national issues and emphasize his role in making Texas one of the strongest economies in the country. According to the June Gallup numbers, 49% of Americans think that the economy and/or unemployment are the most pressing issues facing the nation. In the same month, Texas led the nation in job growth with the addition of 14,000 new jobs.

Despite the fact that Perry is running for state office, he repeatedly references the need for change in Washington, D.C., using Texas as the gold standard. As early as July 2009, Perry indicated the importance of Texas to the rest of the nation when he told the Houston Chronicle: “I feel we are influencing the national debate from the bully pulpit of the governorship of Texas.”

Governor Perry recently cast himself into the national spotlight by becoming an outspoken supporter of the tea party movement. Videos on his website and YouTube feature the governor inviting Texans to join him in rallies across the state. He publicly awarded fellow conservative and popular news commentator, Glenn Beck, with honorary citizenship in the state of Texas. These calculated moves were aimed at garnering national, not local attention.

Also, in following the success of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Perry has changed the way that he reaches out to potential supporters. In 2010, he is forgoing traditional yard signs and instead focusing on social media. His Facebook page boasts over forty thousand fans while U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, his opponent in the Republican primary, had less than half of that on her two pages combined.

This effort to reach out to national and social media and identify with newer movements has fared well with younger voters who tend to participate more in national elections. Perry’s message is successfully getting through to young Texans and expanding to youth across the nation. In an email interview, Shawn Griffiths, director of media relations for the Young Conservatives of Texas, says,

The rapid growth of movements like the tea party movement throughout the United states is evidence that more and more people, especially young people, are beginning to understand that more limitations on federal authority are needed, because the rapid expansion in the size of the central government has had a negative effect on our country. It is because of this that more and more people are looking to leaders like Rick Perry as ideal candidates to help steer our nation in the right direction.

Despite the evidence that Perry is focusing on a national audience, Perry has denied his interest in climbing to the top of the political ladder. The Dallas News quoted Perry saying, "I have great interest in who the president is going to be in 2012. It won't be me. I have no interest in going to Washington, D.C."