What does Rick Perry gain from running for president in 2016?
June 17, 2015 11:34 AM   Subscribe

When I look at the main Republican presidential candidates (or assumed candidates at this point), I can understand what each one gains from running, even knowing (for most of them anyway) that their chance of winning is very slim. But Rick Perry puzzles me...

Some are furthering a political career (Jindal, Christie, Rubio, Cruz, Rand Paul), some benefit from the notoriety itself (Trump, Huckabee as talking head), and some get benefit to their cause/ostensibly non-political career, mostly as leaders of the conservative Christian and/or tea-party consituency (Huckabee, Paul, Cruz).

But after serving as governor, Rick Perry doesn't seem to have a political future in the works, he's liked by a lot of tea partiers but not a leader, and he doesn't seem to be a particular narcissist in it for the notoriety itself. If he's after money as a lobbyist, I don't see how running for president gains him much that he doesn't already have except maybe nationwide connections.

And he must certainly know he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in West Texas of winning.

What are his future plans and how does his candidacy support them?
posted by tippiedog to Law & Government (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He doesn't seem like a narcissist?! As a long suffering Texan, I am baffled by that statement. Couple his obvious narcissism with the craven greed of a good Texas Republican and I think you have your answer.
posted by txmon at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2015 [13 favorites]

And he must certainly know he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in West Texas of winning.

See, that's the thing: not only does he not know that, but neither does anybody else. It's anybody's at this point, and despite the last run, he's actually a solid campaigner and has the right qualifications and affectations.
posted by General Malaise at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

1. Running for president is the political future in the works. You're far too dismissive of him: the GOP is looking for a candidate who can also win in the general election. And a lot can happen in a primary: four years ago Pawlenty was looking strong and then was the first to bow out.
2. He is narcissistic, as is anyone running for president. They're applying for a job where they have little control and tremendous responsibility. It's madness.
3. He can raise a lot of money to pay staffers and consultants who've been loyal to him.
4. If he loses, he can charge higher speaking fees.

tl;dr: he thinks he can win and that he'll be a good president.
posted by JackBurden at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Mod note: This can maybe work if it's kept to dry and focused "here's some specific context on Rick Perry" answers, but this needs to not turn into a political chat sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:48 AM on June 17, 2015

I suspect that Rick Perry actually does believe he has a chance, although I'm not sure if it's true. TX Governor to White House isn't exactly unprecedented, you know :-)

He's been working with a lot of policy experts so that he can be up-to-date on the various issues and talking points, which is how you would expect a credible candidate to act. He probably looks at the previous campaign as a learning experience that showed he wasn't ready and has spent the intervening time getting ready.

He's not polling well now, but it's also clear that a lot of the people polling well are going to drop off. As long as he has enough money to outlast them, this gives him a real shot.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:08 PM on June 17, 2015

Response by poster: @txmon: As a fellow long-suffering Texan, his narcissism doesn't seem that much worse than your average politician, but you could be right.

Others: Your observations that a lot can happen in the primaries is fair enough. I'm just assuming Jeb will get the nomination. But if he dropped out for some reason, then many of these other candidates might actually stand a chance.
posted by tippiedog at 12:14 PM on June 17, 2015

Response by poster: Re: If he loses, he can charge higher speaking fees

That's one possible benefit that I hadn't thought of.
posted by tippiedog at 12:15 PM on June 17, 2015

Here's an article about six different reasons people run for president. Of interest:

4. To boost their brand.

A presidential campaign can be a pathway to places other than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After presidential runs, Huckabee landed a show on Fox News, civil rights leader Al Sharpton got a show on MSNBC, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ended up as a co-host on CNN. Some have followed even long-shot presidential campaigns by hawking books and delivering motivational speeches.

6. Because lightning sometimes strikes.

Jimmy Carter has become the patron saint of long-shot candidates. In 1974, the one-term governor of Georgia launched the sort of presidential campaign in which he and his young driver-cum-traveling-aide, Jody Powell, called up reporters asking whether they wanted to interview him. But the burgeoning Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Nixon fueled support for the Southerner who promised, "I'll never lie to you." He won in 1976, although he would lose his bid for re-election.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:28 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

And he must certainly know he doesn't stand a snowball's chance in West Texas of winning.

You are wrong, wrong, wrong. He probably won't win. But to say he doesn't stand a chance?


History disagrees.

Perry is the governor of the second-largest state in the Union for electoral votes, and it's the reddest of red states. His profile is so, so much higher than recent presidents.

Barack Obama was a one-term senator that nobody had ever heard of before he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention. George W. Bush was exactly where Perry is now. Clinton was a longshot from the start, the Democratic (!) governor of a southern state. George H.W. Bush was the director of the CIA -- not exactly a high-profile gig -- before he garnered enough "he's safe" cred for Reagan to name him VP, a job in which he did exactly nothing to stand out. Reagan was Reagan, but Jimmy Carter was a one-term governor of a state half of the size of Texas, electorally. Ford had the job drop into his lap. Fucking Nixon won in 1968 after nearly a decade that they called his "wilderness years."

If the sweep of history is any guide, Perry stands a HUGE chance of winning.

Jesus hell, provided he doesn't completely fuck up with another "oops" moment, it's only the indictment that's going to prevent him from winning. And even that he will argue was politically motivated; it won't make a dent in his Texas / Tea Party base.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:29 PM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Cool Papa Bell: well, that's depressing. Maybe my question was fueled by wishful thinking/denial.

showbiz_liz: A presidential campaign can be a pathway to places other than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After presidential runs, Huckabee landed a show on Fox News, civil rights leader Al Sharpton got a show on MSNBC, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ended up as a co-host on CNN. Some have followed even long-shot presidential campaigns by hawking books and delivering motivational speeches.

As I thought through those possibilities, I didn't find any that I knew of that were already in the works for Perry (unlike many of the other candidates). But your point is fair enough: general brand boosting can lead to lots of things later.
posted by tippiedog at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2015

George W. Bush was exactly where Perry is now.

It's probably more accurate to say that GWB was exactly where Perry was four years ago. Trying to run again after a campaign implosion of that magnitude is literally unprecedented.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:00 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

i don't know for rick perry specifically - but book advances, speaking fees, lobbying jobs, etc all get more lucrative if "presidential candidate" gets added to your experience. it's actually just a good thing to keep in mind every time one of the no chance in hell candidates makes the news for saying something stupid - they'll take the presidency if it comes, but they're there to increase their portfolio and prepare to stuff their wallets.
posted by nadawi at 1:15 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

using herman cain as an example, here is an article about how lucrative it is to run for president.
posted by nadawi at 1:18 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm just assuming Jeb will get the nomination.

Hillary was considered the inevitable DNC nominee around this time eight years ago. Poor strategic choices, influential bad staffers, or changing events can always surprise. McCain was maintaining/building his poll numbers until his late September campaign suspension to address the financial crisis.
posted by JackBurden at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Publicity, he's getting his brand out there, even if he doesn't make it this time his name is out there for a time when he may be in a better position to try again.

Which leads to #2 reason Money. The amount of money that flies around candidates is super scary big, if he makes himself more famous the amount of money he can make/wangle even if his bid fails is not going to be insignificant.
posted by wwax at 1:46 PM on June 17, 2015

I don't think he's smart or subtle enough that there's lots of complex reasoning behind it. I think it's simply this: He wants to be President. How do you get to be President? By getting in the race.
posted by doctor tough love at 5:58 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If he follows the Newt Gingrich script, he's got literally $100 million reasons to run for President.

Listen to this and tell me you can't Ctrl+F and replace Perry for Gingrich:

"Former House speaker Newt Gingrich transfigured himself from a political flameout into a thriving business conglomerate. The power of the Gingrich brand fueled a for-profit collection of enterprises that generated close to $100 million in revenue over the past decade, said his longtime attorney Randy Evans.

Among Gingrich’s moneymaking ventures: a health-care think tank financed by six-figure dues from corporations; a consulting business; a communications firm that handled his speeches of up to $60,000 a pop, media appearances and books; a historical documentary production company; a separate operation to administer the royalties for the historical fiction that Gingrich writes with two co-authors; even an in-house literary agency that has counted among its clients a presidential campaign rival, former senator Rick Santorum.

Separate from all of that was his nonprofit political operation, American Solutions for Winning the Future. Before it disintegrated this summer in Gingrich’s absence, American Solutions generated another $52 million and provided some of the money that allowed the former speaker to travel by private jet and hired limousine.

Along the way, Gingrich has become a wealthy man, earning $2.5 million in personal income last year, according to his financial disclosure form.

As unforgiving as Washington can be, it has long had a soft spot for its has-beens, even those who gave up power in defeat or disgrace."

One of Rick Perry's specific strengths is his lobbyist sister's support for doctor-owned private clinics (e.g., ambulatory surgery centers that can perform abortions, where they could limit supply, funnel demand and mark up the costs outrageously).

He seems like kind of an idiot but is cunning enough to have passed a law allowing him to retire and draw his pension while still collecting a paycheck.

Look, I don't think he'll ever be president. He's already auditioned for the lobbyist job by trying to make the HPV vaccine mandate happen due to financial ties with Merck, his ability to switch from Democrat to Republican party makes him a fair-to-middling potential senator, hell Perry could even become a preacher with his prayers for rain stunts.

I'm not excited to see what shitstorm of a job he'll do next and where, but I'm hoping we'll all forget his name soon enough.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:32 PM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know nothing about Perry specifically - but another reason why a candidate without a clear hope of winning might choose to take part is that - at the moment of withdrawing from the competition - he gets to publicly throw his support behind the person he thinks will win. If that person then becomes president then there will likely be a positive pay-out for him.
posted by rongorongo at 11:07 PM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Johnny Assay's link points out that no-one in his position has ever tried before. In that case, why not set your Bayesian prior to 50% and go for it? All of those previous quitters made a decision not to run again based on little-to-no evidence. Perhaps Perry is recognizing that non-existent evidence counts for nothing.
posted by clawsoon at 11:23 PM on June 17, 2015

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