Everyone's got a hobby. NBC's Sarah Blackwill passes this along...
"Well, I don't play golf," Perry says, "So, this is my golf."
Everyone's got a hobby. NBC's Sarah Blackwill passes this along...
"Well, I don't play golf," Perry says, "So, this is my golf."
Just hours before last week's Republican presidential debate, Rick Perry's campaign announced that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was supporting Perry.
Also last week, Mitt Romney rolled out endorsements of his own -- from California Congressman Darrell Issa and Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita.
When the lights shut off on the debate stages, and all the town hall folding chairs are packed away, there's another campaign that continues, largely hidden from public view, over dinners and long-distance phone calls: the fight for top-tier endorsements.
As they battle to win the support of undecided primary voters, Romney and Perry both have used national networks built over the last decade to build formidable lists of governors, members of Congress, and local lawmakers who have joined their team.
And a recent pattern has emerged, though with some exceptions: Perry's endorsements are coming from some sitting governors who are considered rising stars in the party, while Romney's are coming from sitting members of Congress.
Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history and a two-time chairman of the Republican Governors Association, can boast the support of two other fellow state execs besides Brownback: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, both of whom are minorities and rising stars in the GOP.
It was during his RGA leadership that Perry solidified his reputation as a formidable fundraiser whose cash-courting helped Republicans regain majority control of the nation's statehouses. The RGA raised over $217 million between 2006 (the time Perry took on an active role there) and 2011 (when he left the RGA chairmanship to pursue the presidency).
"The governors who experienced Gov. Perry's tenure at the RGA, the folks that he helped in some cases recruit and in some cases elect, know that he was in it for them and for the party, and not just for self-interest or self-aggrandizement," said Ray Sullivan, Perry's campaign communications director and his former gubernatorial chief of staff.
That's in contrast, he said, to past chairmen including Romney, whose tenure at the helm of the RGA Sullivan described as "insular and self-centered" compared with Perry's.
The former Massachusetts governor's win-loss record at the helm of the RGA also was far less boastworthy than Perry's despite his strength as a fundraiser. That record loomed large the last time Romney ran for president, when only three of the nation's 22 Republican governors backed his primary effort.
Romney's Capitol Hill support
But while Perry bests Romney on his number of high-profile gubernatorial backers, Romney has the lead when it comes to his base of congressional support.
To date, his campaign has announced the endorsements of 15 sitting representatives, three U.S. senators, and two sitting governors -- Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.
(Perry, by comparison, has a total of at least nine backers on Capitol Hill so far.)
That includes several endorsers from Romney's '08 campaign who have returned to the fold, such as California Congressman Buck McKeon and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Romney's national political action committee, Free and Strong America, also gave tens of thousands of dollars to dozens of Republican candidates during the midterm election cycle, and Romney campaigned for them as well. Several of those who received max contributions -- Reps. Joe Heck of Nevada and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, for example -- are backing Romney.
"Gov. Romney was proud to support a number of fiscally conservative candidates in the 2010 election cycle," campaign spokesman Ryan Williams explained. "It's always good to go to the states to meet people and help them get elected and grow those relationships."
But a personal relationship and healthy donation from Free And Strong America does not guarantee an endorsement for Romney. In 2010, the PAC gave a maximum contribution to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, who is now a strong backer of his home state governor. Michele Bachmann also accepted money from Free And Strong America, as did Perry himself.
Political insiders say lawmaker endorsements rarely earn candidates primary votes directly, but do serve as important signals to activists and potential donors.
For Romney, endorsements by conservatives like Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake help shore up the candidate's conservative bonafides, often in question by elements of that movement.
For Perry, endorsements from Republican establishment figures like Sessions (who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee) and fellow Texan Jeb Hensarling (the fourth-ranking house Republican) prove that Perry's anti-Washington message does not mean he will lack support there.
As for the other GOP presidential candidates, the dearth of such backing can be a red flag. Michele Bachmann racked up local political endorsements in Iowa, but the lack of support from any of her congressional colleagues is seen by some as a sign of her limited national appeal.
Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum have likewise struggled to attract support from more than a handful of other national Republican figures.
While many endorsements at this stage are done by rote -- a press release and a handshake photo-op before everyone returns to their day jobs -- others present the possibility for greater value.
For example, the Romney campaign believes that former presidential candidate (and former Minnesota Gov.) Tim Pawlenty, who endorsed Romney earlier this month and became a national co-chair of his campaign, falls into the latter category. Since joining team Romney, Pawlenty has been assiduously courting his network of supporters to now support Romney as well.
"Pawlenty has done a fantastic job of reaching out to people," said Williams, the Romney spokesman. "He's been fully invested in this campaign since Day One."
Perry's backers have also been major presences -- as both media surrogates and behind-the-scenes advocates. Both Jindal and Brownback took a turn touting their candidate's performance to reporters in the "spin room" after debates in Tampa and Orlando, as did Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon and New Hampshire Deputy House Speaker Pam Tucker.
Jindal also recently penned an email fundraising solicitation for the Texas governor.
And Perry's team notes that after just six weeks in the race, their endorsement list is already competitive with Romney's.
"We're very pleased with where we are from an endorsement standpoint, Sullivan said. "Our endorsers are active, engaged and enthusiastic. And we hope, obviously, to have more coming down the road."
DES MOINES, IA - The wife of Texas Governor Rick Perry defended her husband's immigration record during a stop here on Tuesday night meant to boost the presidential hopeful's campaign.
Anita Perry stumped for her husband in several stops yesterday in Iowa, where she characterized her husband as the best-suited candidate to match up against President Obama next fall, and promised improved performances in the next GOP debate.
“Some have attacked Rick on this issue of immigration, so I want you to be armed with the facts,” Mrs. Perry said, speaking to dozens of attendees at a Polk County GOP central committee meeting in Clive.
“No one has done more to secure the border. And as president, he is committed to stopping the tide of illegal immigration,” she continued after noting that husband vetoed a bill to give illegal immigrants driver licenses, fought illegal sanctuaries, and billed the government for incarcerating illegal aliens. Mrs. Perry also said in-state tuition is only offered to residents who have gone to school in Texas for three years and have earned a high-school degree.
The first lady of Texas was asked after the event to clarify her comments on the latest debate saying that her husband is not “polished” like some 2012 candidates.
“Gov. Romney has been running for president for four or five years, and that was my husband’s third debate,” she told reporters. “I think [Perry] would tell you that the other night was not his best performance. But he is only going to get better, and I think part of the attacks had something to do with it. I think when you have seven arrows being shot at you -- and you are the one person in the middle -- a 30-second rebuttal doesn’t give you much time.”
Mrs. Perry also spoke at the opening of the campaign’s Iowa headquarters in West Des Moines earlier in the evening, where she citing her husband’s determination.
“He’s the most determined candidate that I know. And when the chips get down, he’s at his best because he’s a fighter. And that’s why we’re in this race,” she said during a brief speech to a handful of supporters at the opening. "When Rick sees so many people struggling, it breaks his heart -- but steels his resolve.”
Mrs. Perry is confident in the performance Gov. Perry will have in the next debate on Oct. 11. "He's going to be better prepared this time," she assured those in Iowa. "I think he is only one who can go toe to toe with Obama."
This post was updated at 1:08 p.m. to include new quotes.
Power DC lobbyists will be attending a fundraiser for Rick Perry tonight. But how many will turn out?
That is the key question today when the Texas governor flies to town for what is being touted as his "Washington kickoff"-- two gala fundraisers at the Willard Hotel and at the private home of local auto magnate Mandell Ourisman.
The Willard Hotel event is being billed as a lobbyists' extravaganza: a copy of the invite obtained by NBC News lists a 28 member host committee -- at least 20 of whom are K Street lobbyists, including veteran big money GOP fundraisers as Dirk Van Dongen (president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors), Marc Lampkin (a principal at Quinn-Gillespie who represents, among many others, the Blackstone Group and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway), Roy Coffee (a former aide to President George W. Bush who represents Texas banking interests) and others with bulging client lists that include Wall Street equity funds, insurance companies, big pharmaceutical firms and many others.
Each member of the host committee, according to the invite, is committed to raising $10,000 -- so with full participation, Perry should net $280,000 and another $120,000 at the later event at the Ourisman home.
But a DC lobbying source tells NBC the host committee remains a list in flux because organizers have had trouble nailing down commitments from other top lobbyists they had hoped to include. The problem reflects new doubts about Perry, both because of his rough debate performance last week and questions about whether he will have the staying power to make it through the primary gauntlet, says the DC lobbyist who has been courted by organizers of the event.
The cash collected tonight will be a crucial test, because it comes just days before the Sept. 30 quarterly filing deadline. When the final tallies are reported, Perry is widely viewed as needing an impressive number -- at least $15 million or so -- to maintain his status as the GOP front-runner.
Less than four months before the first GOP nominating contests are expected to begin, the narrative of the 2012 presidential primary is shaping up to sound something like this: Texas Gov. Rick Perry will pit his unapologetic anti-establishment rhetoric against Mitt Romney's discipline, network of political professionals, and appeal to a broad general electorate.
While the GOP contest might not be that clear-cut in reality -- and the race is sure to see more twists and turns ahead -- that's still a metaphorical shootout that Perry would like to have.
After all, he won a similar fight two years ago without appearing to break a sweat at the end. And it's a playbook he might rely on more heavily after a series of tough debate performances, as well as his upset loss at the Florida Straw Poll.
Perry's 2010 gubernatorial primary contest against Kay Bailey Hutchison should have been a nail-biter. By many accounts the most popular politician in Texas, Hutchison was known as a competent fighter for the state's interest, and she had the backing of Karl Rove and other establishment Republicans. And after winning only 39% of the vote in his 2006 re-election as Texas governor, Perry was facing lower approval ratings and grumblings about his decision to run for a third term.
But Perry, a cotton farmer turned politician, sensed a change in the weather.
On Tax Day 2009 -- as most D.C. Republicans were warily eying "Tea Party" groups and gingerly testing what looked like cracks in the Republican Party's foundations -- Perry was donning a bomber jacket and taking the stage at a rally of those frustrated Texans.
"I'm just not real sure you're a bunch of right-wing extremists," Perry bellowed to activists in Austin. "But if you are, we're with you."
The Tea Party crowd erupted in cheers:
April 16: Texas Gov. Rick Perry addresses a tax day "tea party," telling the audience that Washington is overturning their rights, and ignoring limits on federal power.
After the same event, Perry suggested to reporters that Texas could secede from the union if Washington “continues to thumb their nose at the American people.”
The anti-Washington wave wouldn't crash nationwide for another 19 months on Election Day, but with those statements, Perry positioned himself at its head.
“That was the tipping point in the race” said Southern Methodist University political science professor Calvin Jillson. “Perry understood that there was a change taking place in public perception of government."
Branding “Washington Kay”
At the same time, Perry's team was discovering that Hutchison's support was more shallow than it seemed -- especially among those in the new movement Perry was riding.
"Kay was casually well-liked," said Perry pollster Mike Baselice. "She hadn't had a real challenge since her special election. A lot of people just said, 'Oh yeah, Kay's great.’ But as soon as you explained her record to Republican primary voters, they took off and ran the other way. They had no idea."
Team Perry set out to make sure those voters got an idea.
Texans soon started hearing their senior senator dubbed "Kay Bailout" to underscore her support of the unpopular TARP bill. Perry's opposition research website lived atwww.WashingtonKay.com. Hutchison’s record on earmarks -- in earlier times viewed as a quantitative record of a lawmaker's willingness to fight for federal resources for the state –- became one of her greatest liabilities.
"Every time they talked about her, they talked about her in the context of Washington," said former Hutchison staffer Matt Mackowiak. "Votes, earmarks, lobbyists, PAC fundraisers. They talked about 'career politician and Virginia resident Kay Bailey Hutchison.' They could get about seven insults in seven words there."
Perry also ran relentlessly to Hutchison’s right on social issues -- in particular, hammering her on her more moderate position on abortion. As Hutchison pleaded for primary voters to see that her rival “talks like a conservative, but governs like a liberal,” her support continued to collapse.
The effectiveness of Perry’s message -- and the discipline with which he and his team executed it -- left his opponent dazed. Days before Perry thundered to a 20-point victory in the March 2 primary, a stunned Hutchison told the Associated Press she never thought Texans “would buy” her competitor’s tactic.
“I didn’t think that anyone could turn my success in producing results for Texas into a negative,” she lamented. “But I think that he has attempted to do that and that is what I’ve been having to fight against.”
Parallels to the present
Just as Hutchison tried to paint herself as the reasonable, measured alternative to a governor whom even some allies teasingly refer to as “Yosemite Sam,” Perry’s main 2012 rival was quick to make the argument that the Tea Party favorite’s policy positions are too extreme to win over voters in a general election.
Romney, himself a former presidential candidate and the son of a three-term governor and onetime White House hopeful, is -- as Hutchison was -- more the favorite of the “establishment” Republicans publicly reviled by Perry.
Specifically citing Perry’s tough talk on Social Security, Romney said earlier this month that Republicans “will be obliterated as a party” if they choose Perry as their nominee. (That sentiment is echoed by Rove -- the same GOP strategist who backed Hutchison in 2010 -- who now calls Perry’s position on Social Security “toxic” to the GOP. )
Romney also has stressed that he's the more electable Republican. "I’m going to be a Republican candidate who can win," he said last week. "I say that with significance."
Perry, a Texas A&M graduate who is careful to point out that he wasn’t “born with four aces in my hand,” has responded by needling the kind of “established Republican who circulates in the cocktail circuit that would find some of my rhetoric to be inflammatory.”
That’s a familiar-sounding line from a candidate who once praised outsider queen Sarah Palin for making liberals and D.C. media elites “foam at the mouth.”
Perry’s gleeful blasting of the Beltway during the GOP primary is undoubtedly resonating with voters, who have vaulted him to the top of national polls. But it is less clear that his anti-Washington playbook from 2010 will be as effective against a GOP rival who has never held federal elected office.
“It’s a problem for Perry,” said one Republican operative who declined to be named because of employment by a group that will not endorse in the race. “Romney may have some allies and fundraisers in Washington, but that doesn't connect to voters in Iowa. They don't know who those people are.”
And Romney, an energetic candidate with a deep-pocketed team of opposition researchers, might be better equipped than Hutchison was to deconstruct Perry’s popularity with Republicans in his idiosyncratic home state.
“The campaign that Perry’s running right now is the campaign that has served him very well in Texas,” Jillson says. “But it’s an open question as to whether it translates to the national level.”
From Andrew Rafferty, Carrie Dann, Jamie Novogrod
ORLANDO, Fla. – Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain claimed victory in today’s Florida straw poll, receiving more than double the amount of votes of front-runner Rick Perry.
Herman Cain upsets GOP front-runner Rick Perry with 37 percent of the vote in Florida's straw poll. NBC's Mike Viqueira reports.
Cain received 37 percent of the 2,657 delegate votes cast here today. Perry followed with 15.4 percent. Romney was a close third with 14 percent of the vote.
Cain spent this week campaigning in Florida along the I-4 corridor running between Tampa and Orlando. His events were held in front of local county Republican groups ripe with straw poll delegates. But his victory may also represent the result of Perry’s showing Thursday at the Fox/Google debate.
Many of those gathered for Presidency 5 – the three-day event that concluded with this straw poll – expressed concern that sniping between the front-runners had opened opportunities for the trailing candidates. Perry surrogate Michael Williams, a former Texas Railroad commissioner and current congressional candidate, used his time in front of the delegates to try to reassure those put off by Perry's uneven performance.
"We are not electing a debater-in-chief," Williams said to applause from the crowd. "We are electing a commander-in-chief."
Perry’s national press secretary, Mark Miner, said the results were “not at all a setback” to the campaign. He dismissed the idea that the second place showing demonstrates that Perry has been unable to shake off a rough debate performance Thursday.
"Debates are part of the process but we are taking our message directly to the people. Mitt Romney has been doing debates and running for president for five and a half years and he comes in third. Must be a devastating loss for him and a morale buster for his campaign in a state like Florida after five and a half years.
The other major storyline from today’s event was Michele Bachmann's eighth-place finish – last among the contenders. It marks another chapter in an odyssey taking her from victory this summer at the straw poll in Ames, Iowa, to a recent slip in polls and the departure of her high-profile campaign manager, Ed Rollins.
Florida Republican operatives tell NBC that Bachmann missed an opportunity here. They point to her decision not to devote resources to the Florida straw poll – which meant that her campaign could not address delegates Saturday morning.
"With Perry's poor performance at the debate, this would have been an incredible opportunity for her to come out and really reestablish herself," says Sarasota County GOP chairman Joe Gruters. "But without her being here, you know there's nothing she can do."
Bachmann participated in two days of Florida GOP events this week, including Thursday's FOX/Google debate, but left the state after her speech Friday morning to CPAC.
During a visit to a Tampa suburb in late August, Bachmann told reporters that the crowded debate schedule during the run-up to Florida’s straw poll prevented her from committing to the event. “We have a number of places that we need to be, and to meaningfully participate in the straw poll we would have to be just exclusively in Florida all the time,” she said.
It was the first straw poll held in the Sunshine State since 1995.
None were held during the 2000 or 2008 campaign cycles – due largely to the fact that candidates did not want to shift time and resources to the large and expensive state of Florida.
Candidates vying for the White House in 2012 spent this week talking about the important role Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, will play in the general election, but few mentioned the straw poll itself.
Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were the only candidates to address the delegates inside the Orange County Convention Center today, and Bachmann and Romney did not so much as send surrogates to address straw poll voters.
New figures about Texas' jobless rate are raising some tough questions about Rick Perry's claim to be the leading jobs creator in the GOP field. NBC's Michael Isikoff reports.
Still, Florida Republican voters got multiple chances to see the candidates this week as part of the Presidency 5 events. Between Thursday's Faith and Freedom Coalition Rally and Fox News debate, plus the Conservative Political Action Conference's road trip to Orlando on Friday, all the candidates were campaigning in the state.
Straw poll votes were tallied from Republicans from all of the state's 67 counties. Floridians who wanted to participate needed to apply to be delegates, then get chosen through a lottery.
The three straw polls held before this in Florida have all picked the eventual primary winner. Ronald Reagan was the first winner in 1979, followed by George H.W. Bush in 1987 and then Bob Dole in 1995.
“If Florida tradition holds, this could be the launching pad of a big twist,” said Brian Hughes, communications director for the Republican Party of Florida.
The full results are below
Today at the Republican Party of Florida’s Presidency 5, 2,657 delegates cast their votes in the party’s straw poll. The results are as follows:
The Bachmann campaign released this statement on the Presidency 5 Florida straw poll:
"Florida is an important state in the presidential race, but we chose not to participate in the P5 Poll which is open to select delegates. We got into the presidential race late and dedicated our resources to the Iowa straw poll which is open to all Iowans with a valid ID; Michele won the Iowa poll with less time and money than the other candidates in the race."
ORLANDO, FL -- Just a little more than 12 hours after ending a shaky debate performance here, an energetic Texas Gov. Rick Perry defied critics who have speculated that his political skills on the national stage don't live up to the hype his front-runner status has garnered.
"As conservatives, we know that values and vision matter," Perry told the crowd at the CPAC meeting in Florida. "It's not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect. We need to elect the candidate with the best record and the best vision for this country."
After bounding onto the stage and flashing hearty thumbs ups to a cheering crowd, Perry did not mention the verbal beating he took from competitors last night on the issue of Texas's granting of in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants.
But he did take another broad swipe at his top rival Mitt Romney for his support of a 2006 health-care law that included mandates.
"The model for socialized medicine has already been tried, and it failed. Not just in Western Europe, but in Massachusetts," he said of the legislation Romney signed into law.
Perry also accused President Obama of boosting medical costs for older veterans as a part of his deficit reduction plan.
"Mr. President, the men and women of our military who have served our country with courage every single day have already sacrificed enough," he said.
Before the Republican presidential debate in Orlando Thursday, seven GOP candidates addressed the Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition.
By NBC's Carrie Dann, Andrew Rafferty, James Novogrod and Garrett Haake. Video edited by NBC's Matt Loffman.
Hours before the fourth presidential debate, a parade of GOP hopefuls made their pitches to conservative and religious activists Thursday afternoon at a forum across the street from the fight night venue.
Candidates addressed a crowd of about 3,000 at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Rally, an event billed as a kickoff to the Florida Presidency 5 gathering that will dominate the political news cycle this weekend.
Seven of the nine candidates who will share the stage at tonight's debate spoke at the rally, each underscoring their conservative credentials while hinting at the attacks they are likely to make during the debate itself.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, the first candidate to speak, delivered remarks laced with historical references — and a barb aimed, it seemed, at a fellow candidate.
“We are that Gideon’s army that’s coming together to stand for the values that we know are the backbone of America. For life, for liberty, for the American family. For religious freedom,” Bachmann said, referencing a military hero of the Old Testament.
She continued: “Some people have said that this election has to be anybody but Obama,” adding, “of any election, this is the one when conservatives don’t have to settle.”
Bachmann didn’t mention anyone’s name, leaving the audience to decipher which candidate she had in mind. During last week’s CNN / Tea Party Express debate, Bachmann attacked Rick Perry’s HPV vaccine mandate he authorized as governor of Texas. But social conservatives have also been critical of Mitt Romney — whose speech followed Bachmann's.
Gov. Mitt Romney stuck largely to his business and economy focused message, not singling out any of his rivals by name.
"I spent my life in the private sector. I'm a business guy. I'm a conservative business guy." Romney told the crowd, before repeating his standard anti-Obama line that to create jobs it "helps to have had a job."
Unlike most of the other candidates, Romney never discussed his own faith directly. When he strayed from his economic message, it was to talk about patriotism and values more generically. He said the country needed leaders who could "draw on the patriotism of the American people" and said his own travels around the United States had made him optimistic, not cynical about America's future.
Romney also repeated a characterization of President Obama that he debuted at the VFW convention in San Antonio last month: that the president's policies were guided by "all those years, perhaps, in the Harvard faculty lounge" and by looking to Europe. Some observers see this as an odd distinction for Romney to attempt to draw with the president, since the former Massachusetts governor himself earned a J.D./M.B.A at Harvard, and several of his advisers hold degrees from the Cambridge, Mass. institution, or have taught there. Three of Romney's five sons also have advanced degrees from Harvard.
The last speaker, Gov. Rick Perry, made a direct pitch for support in the P5 straw poll to be held on Saturday. Perry also delivered an in-person critique of the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" education reform program, which his team slammed in an email to reporters earlier Thursday. The Texas governor's aides charge that Romney has flip-flopped on his views of the White House's educations reforms.
Receiving one of the most enthusiastic receptions from Faith and Freedom attendees was former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who noted that he has never held elected office.
Also speaking at the event were former Pennsylvania Sen. RIck Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was included on a preliminary schedule, but a spokesman said that he was never slated to attend.
MIAMI -- Addressing a crowd of mostly seniors and using a new visual aid, Mitt Romney hit Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Texas governor's past statements that Social Security may be unconstitutional and should be a state program.
As dual giant projector screens posed six questions directed to Perry -- about how Social Security would actually work at the state level -- Romney lambasted the idea, arguing that such a system would not work in "any way, shape or form"
The Perry campaign responded with this statement: “Mitt Romney's own book compared Social Security to a criminal enterprise. Now Mr. Romney is again sounding like a Democrat, distorting the truth and trying to scare senior citizens. As he has so many times in the past, Mr. Romney seems to forget he's a Republican."
Romney also used this appearance before a group of perhaps 70 voters (as well as a healthy number of reporters) to advance another major argument for his nomination: that he is the most electable candidate against President Obama.
Asked how he could help Senate candidates in addition to just campaigning for them, Romney replied, "I'm going to be the Republican candidate who can win, and I say that with significance," adding he believed that he could win over independent voters, women, and even some Democrats.
"President Obama is doing a great job of rallying our base," he said to laughter from the crowd. "There’s almost nothing we can do…that’s as motivational as what he’s doing to get our voters out and voting."
The former Massachusetts governor also said he would not be pushed to the right in a primary -- or to the center in a general election -- because he had mapped out his positions in his own recent book, and that those represent where he is.
"I think the American people recognize that we’re at a point of crisis and they want to hear the truth. And they can tell when people are being phony and are pandering to an audience, and you’ll see that in politics. You’re not going to see that in my campaign."
(Romney critics, however, argue that his chief weakness may very well be his ability to pander. He once supported abortion rights; he's now against them. He once supported embryonic stem-cell research; now he's against it. He once called his Massachusetts health-care law a model for the country; now he wants to repeal a federal law based largely on his state law.)
When a reporter asked Romney after the event who he felt was being a phony, exactly, he declined to name names.
Romney took a few questions from the audience pertaining to local issues like immigration and the United States' relationship with Latin America, which he said he hopes to strengthen by appointing a presidential envoy to take responsibility for the region.
On immigration, Romney again criticized Perry by name -- for the Texas governor's opposition to a full-border fence, the Arizona immigration law, and for creating a "magnet" for illegal immigrants by allowing in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants in Texas.
For his part, Romney theorized that using a point system similar to those used in other countries to determine who can immigrate here legally might be one way to reform the system of legal immigration.
Asked by NBC after the event if his criticisms of the President's policies on Israel were appropriate given the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations at the United Nations today, Romney expanded upon his original remarks.
"I think what the president did was an error with regards to Israel was begin dictating what he would do saying here you should do this and you should that. Those kinds of discussions should be held behind closed doors," Romney said. "The president should not be negotiating for his ally Israel. The president should stand behind Israel and negotiations and discussions should be held in private if the president has a different view than they do."
Demonstrating -- once again -- football's importance in the Lone Star State, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting dragged into college football's conference-realignment wars.
In this instance, T. Boone Pickens -- a financial patron saint to Oklahoma State -- is calling for the GOP presidential front-runner to save the Big 12 conference.
A quick primer: Perry's alma mater of Texas A&M is looking to head to the SEC; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are eyeing the PAC-12; and the University of Texas wants to hold the conference together, though it's keeping its options open and might also head to the PAC-12.
The potential political headache for Perry back home is that this possible realignment -- triggered by A&M -- leaves out Texas schools like Baylor, which could upset the alumni (and voters) from those schools.
Full disclosure: Your author is a proud graduate and fan of the University of Texas.
The Daily Oklahoman:
Boone Pickens doesn't believe the Big 12 is dead. The Oklahoma State benefactor even believes Texas A&M's departure for the SEC can be stopped.
"I think the Aggies are sobering up," Pickens told The Oklahoman.
Pickens has even pulled out the big sales job. He's petitioned Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Pickens said he told Perry to show America that "you fix problems, don't contribute to 'em."
Perry is a former Texas A&M yell leader. "After the Aggies leave school, they're still looking for a yell leader," Pickens said. He said he told Perry to be that leader.
Pickens, whose BP Capital Management office is based in Dallas and who has many A&M ties, said a month ago that he tried to talk the Aggie leadership into staying in the Big 12 but it was a lost cause.
Now, Pickens said he's not so sure.
"I keep thinking they're hearing me," Pickens said. "I'm not sure they're listening to me. But they trust me."
Pickens said Baylor's threat of a lawsuit is real. The Bears have declined to waive their right to sue the SEC, should the Aggies be admitted to that conference.
"Baylor is going to do anything," Pickens said. He likened Baylor to the jackrabbit that is chased by the faster greyhound but isn't caught.
"The difference is, one's running for the fun of it," Pickens said, "and one's running for its life. There's no question they'll file a lawsuit. They sure can stir up a hell of a lot of problems."
Pickens said his plan for A&M is to tell the University of Texas that the Aggies will stay in the Big 12, but only if UT folds its Longhorn Network into an equitable revenue distribution. However, that's a different cause than what irks A&M and OU about the Longhorn Network. The network's association with ESPN, which has pushed to air high school content, bothers the Sooners and Aggies, who believe it would give Texas a recruiting advantage.
"I would cut them off on that thing real quick," Pickens said. "Your problem is DeLoss (Dodds, UT's athletic director). DeLoss is a guy who's always played with all the cards.
"I told him six weeks ago, 'we understand you've got the best hand. But you can't keep doing that to people. You gotta show leadership.
"Big 12, come to your senses. Step up on leadership. Explain to Texas that whatever they have that's different, it's not (going to be) different anymore."
Pickens said his message to OSU president Burns Hargis and athletic director Mike Holder is be patient.
Pickens said if OSU and OU enter the Pac-12, "are you going to be full-fledged members? Not ever, probably. You'll be viewed as the division without the ocean. You'll get to play SC (Southern Cal) at Stillwater every eight years. That's not much of a deal."
NBC News confirms that Texas Gov. Rick Perry dined last night in New York with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticizes President Obama’s foreign policy while affirming his support for Israel.
In his first major foray into foreign-policy specifics, Texas Gov. Rick Perry today blasted the Obama administration's "policy of appeasement" towards Palestine, and he assured Israelis that "help is on the way" in the decades-long conflict in the region.
Surrounded by Jewish leaders -- as well as newly minted GOP Rep. Bob Turner, who won last week's special congressional election in New York -- Perry derided the White House's Middle East policy as "naïve and arrogant, misguided and dangerous" and repeatedly lambasted President Obama's position that the 1967 borders established between Israel and Palestine, with land swaps, be the starting point for further peace negotiations.
"The people of Israel and the people of this world will never question where I stand when it comes to Israel," Perry declared to applause at a press conference in New York City.
Borrowing a line made famous by then-presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, Perry added, "I hope that you tell the people of Israel that help is on the way."
During the press conference, which came as the United Nations considers Palestinian leaders' bid to be formally recognized by the international body, Perry said that he supports the continued building of Israeli settlements and that he advocates for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Asked about whether he views support of Israel as a "theological" matter, Perry noted the strong alliance between that nation and the United States before adding: "I also, as a Christian, have a clear directive to support Israel."
Perry has recently faced criticism for appearing uninformed or offering muddled statements on Middle East policy. In a Time magazine article published earlier this month, Perry suggested that Palestinian leaders must recognize Israel's right to exist -- an agreement already made in the Oslo Accords of 1993.
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Justin Kirschner has more on today's event:
Also in attendance and standing behind Perry -- in addition to Turner -- were New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat; and a Likud Party member of the Knesset, Danny Danon.
Turner, dubbing himself the "messenger from the 9th Congressional District," blasted the Obama administration, saying, "They have been vacillating and at times hostile to Israel, and that is not acceptable." Turner also agreed with Perry's statement that the U.S. should consider pulling its funding from the United Nations if the Palestinian vote goes through, saying to NBC News that removing funding "should be a weapon at our disposal."
Hikind went a step further, saying that U.S. funding for the U.N. should be completely cut. He added, "I don't know what they succeed at doing."
Danon, the only Israeli to speak at Perry's press conference, pre-butted the assumed passage of the General Assembly resolution, saying that recognition of the Palestinians at the U.N. would merely make them "a Facebook nation."