Rick Perry’s Fighting Spirit

 

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Rick Perry’s fighting spirit is in strong shape, he says when asked by my wife. We’re standing in someone’s yard in Meredith, New Hampshire, and Perry is making his way through the crowd of approximately 50 people, shaking hands and speaking directly to each person. The event starts at 1PM, and he’s arrived promptly on time. As new residents in the state, my wife and I were somewhat perplexed when we arrived to see that the event was not taking place in some auditorium, or even a parking lot, but on a quiet residential street in — I know I just wrote this at the beginning of the paragraph but it bears repeating — someone’s back yard. This type of thing does not happen in New York.

Perry talks with us for several minutes—telling us he’s energized, that during the last campaign he was coming off of back surgery—then begins to turn away to the next person. But I’m not quite done and say, “I hope you’ll use that energy to go after Democrats, not others on our side.” He turns back says, “You know, you’re right—and I’ve talked with Jeb, and with Marco, and several of the others about that. And Carly. Carly was born in Texas, did you know that?” He goes on to sing Carly Fiorina’s praises. “Oh, she’s smart,” he says. “You know, she was at the head of HP when I was governor.” He talks about California businesses moving to Texas. “I’ve been on the other side of the negotiating table from Carly,” he says. “She’s good.” Finally, he moves on to the next couple.

We find ourselves standing between Mike Thornton, Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, and Brad Thor, the New York Times best-selling author. Marcus and Morgan, the Luttrell twins, are over by the back, along with several other veterans. Marcus appears to have brought his dog with him.

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Then Perry gets up on a plywood and cinder block stage in front of the garage and speaks passionately about veterans and national security. Echoing his announcement speech, he talks about visiting the American cemetery in Normandy. “All 9,000 graves, white crosses and stars of David, they face west, towards America, towards the country they fought to protect, the country they’d never go home to. And it struck me, that they sit in silent judgement of us. And what we need to ask is, are we worthy?”

After Perry speaks, he takes some questions. A veteran in the crowd asks, “Will you lead us in the pledge of allegiance?” Perry turns and faces the flag and we all recite as one. Another man, who says he’s from San Diego, asks a multi-part question about border security. Perry’s answer is multi-part. He talks about the length of the border. Talks about his use of the National Guard during the summer of 2014. “Look, everyone who’s running will tell you, ‘I will secure the border.’ ” Even Barack Obama says, “ ‘we’ve increased the number of border agents.’ And that’s technically true, but he didn’t even know that his own agents are 45 miles north of the border in an apprehension deployment.”

What’s needed, says Perry, are strategic fences in urban areas, plus assets in remote areas including aerial drones, rapid response teems, and agents “in the water.” You can increase the number of border agents, he says, but if they’re in the wrong place, then it doesn’t matter. We need them “in the water” he repeats (meaning the Rio Grande). His detailed, nuanced response on border security and immigration (“It’s pointless to have a debate on immigration reform until we secure the border”), made me think Ann Coulter might be willing to reassess the dim view of him that she expressed in the Ricochet Podcast last week.

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Then Perry takes pictures with everyone who wants one. One of his young aides, while politely trying to get Perry to head towards the cars—they have to be in Concord at 4PM for another barbecue—takes pictures using phones that have been handed to him. Then they get into their Suburban and leave precisely at 2:30.

We left feeling energized. I’m not sure that Perry will be my candidate in the New Hampshire primary, but I was quite impressed by him. He is truly a skilled retail politician, as others have described him.

I look forward to meeting other candidates.

There are 10 comments.

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  1. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    One thing I’ve never liked about politicians is when they recycle lines or start to sound repetitive.  I think some of that is unavoidable if you’re giving speeches and talking to hundreds of people each day, but I’d much prefer to have a candidate who knows his business so well that he can uniquely explain it in different contexts.  I was really turned off by Ann’s claim that Perry had used the “15 foot fence, 16 foot ladder” line over and over.  It’s clever, but it is also a stupid comment when it comes to actual policy.  If someone used it on me in real life, I’d chuckle, but then I’d say “ok, but seriously.  What about the fence?”  So I’m really unimpressed by the use of that line at all.

    If Perry has ditched it and is starting to show at least a real grasp of the issues, I’ll be very pleased.  He does impress me in other ways.  Last point, though, I really don’t want to hear about his back surgery any more.  If asked about last cycle, he should bring it directly back to the present.  Even when they’re 100% justified, nobody likes excuses.

    • #1
  2. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    I imagine it must be quite difficult to avoid sounding repetitive when campaigning … especially when it comes to one’s most memorable “lines.”

    • #2
  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    I rather like — and am jealous of — the joke about New Hampshire resident who’s asked who he supports for president.

    “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he responds “I’ve not met any of them more than twice yet.”

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks for the write-up–did you get to shake the Luttrell brothers’ hands?

    • #4
  5. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:I rather like — and am jealous of — the joke about New Hampshire resident who’s asked who he supports for president.

    “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he responds “I’ve not met any of them more than twice yet.”

    You’d they come proposin’-

    • #5
  6. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    My wife and I met Gov. Perry several months ago here in Upstate South Carolina before he was traveling with his campaign entourage. Our experience was much like yours, Max. Impressive speaker and willing to take lots of questions without someone screening for him.

    • #6
  7. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Ryan M:Last point, though, I really don’t want to hear about his back surgery any more. If asked about last cycle, he should bring it directly back to the present. Even when they’re 100% justified, nobody likes excuses.

    Yeah, and my wife wasn’t even referring to that when she asked him about his fighting spirit. He’s the one who brought it up. She and I were talking about it afterwards and she made the point that, you know, presidential candidates are just people, and his last campaign was such a disappointment, and he’s clearly somewhat defensive about it, and probably, gets his feelings hurt like anyone else would when people criticize him. So, on the whole, I agree, Ryan, I hope he doesn’t spend too much time on it, but it did make me feel like he was just a normal guy. It does seem like he’s been preparing for a 2016 run ever since January, 2012. I think, I think, this campaign will be a lot different.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    He’s made a positive splash the past few days.  I’ve always like Perry.

    • #8
  9. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    More border BS. Understandable if you’re the Texas governor, but not so important if you’re running for President of the US.

    Stick to the big numbers:

    Next time ask Governor Perry if America needs more or fewer legal immigrants.

    We’ve been taking in a million a year legally for 50 years – what year does he think it should stop?

    • #9
  10. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Freesmith:More border BS. Understandable if you’re the Texas governor, but not so important if you’re running for President of the US.

    Stick to the big numbers:

    Next time ask Governor Perry if America needs more or fewer legal immigrants.

    We’ve been taking in a million a year legally for 50 years – what year does he think it should stop?

    I…don’t agree that the border is not important.

    • #10

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