|Perry speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C., February 9, 2012|
|47th Governor of Texas|
December 21, 2000
|Preceded by||George W. Bush|
|39th Lieutenant Governor of Texas|
January 19, 1999 – December 21, 2000
|Governor||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Bob Bullock|
|Succeeded by||Bill Ratliff|
|9th Commissioner of Agriculture of Texas|
January 15, 1991 – January 19, 1999
George W. Bush
|Preceded by||Jim Hightower|
|Succeeded by||Susan Combs|
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives District 64|
January 8, 1985 – January 8, 1991
|Preceded by||Joe Hanna|
|Succeeded by||John Cook|
|Born||James Richard Perry
March 4, 1950
Paint Creek, Texas
|Political party||Republican (since 1989)
Democrat (before 1989)
|Spouse(s)||Anita Thigpen (1982–present)|
|Children||1 son, 1 daughter|
|Residence||Texas Governor's Mansion|
|Alma mater||Texas A&M University (B.S.)|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1972–1977|
|Unit||772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron|
|This article is part of a series about
James Richard "Rick" Perry (born March 4, 1950) is an American politician who is the 47th and current Governor of Texas. A Republican, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was elected to full gubernatorial terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and is the fourth Texas governor (after Allan Shivers, Price Daniel and John Connally) to serve three terms. With a tenure in office to date of 12 years, 350 days, Perry is the second longest serving current U.S. governor – after Terry Branstad of Iowa. Perry served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2008 (succeeding Sonny Perdue of Georgia) and again in 2011.2 Perry is the longest serving governor in Texas state history. As a result, he is the only governor in modern Texas history to have appointed at least one person to every eligible state office, board, or commission position (as well as to several elected offices to which the governor can appoint someone to fill an unexpired term, such as six of the nine current members of the Texas Supreme Court).
Perry won the Texas 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary election, defeating U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Wharton County Republican Party Chairwoman and businesswoman Debra Medina.3 In the 2010 Texas gubernatorial election, Perry won a third term by defeating former Houston mayor Bill White and Kathie Glass.4
On August 13, 2011, Perry announced in South Carolina that he was running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2012 presidential election. Perry suspended his campaign in January 2012 and eventually endorsed Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
On July 8, 2013, Perry announced that he would not seek re-election to his fourth term in the 2014 election, planning to retire instead.5 Unnamed sources said to be close to Perry told the National Review that Perry may focus on another White House bid for 2016.6
- 1 Early life, education, and military service
- 2 Early political career
- 3 Governor of Texas
- 4 2012 presidential campaign
- 5 Political future
- 6 Political views
- 7 Publications
- 8 Personal life
- 9 Electoral history
- 10 References
- 11 External links
A fifth-generation Texan, Perry was born in Paint Creek, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Abilene in West Texas, to ranchers Joseph Ray Perry and the former Amelia June Holt. Perry's ancestry is almost entirely English, dating as far back as the original thirteen colonies. His family has been in Texas since before the Texan Revolution.789
His father, a Democrat, was a long-time Haskell County commissioner and school board member. Perry has said that his interest in politics probably began in November 1961, when his father took him to the funeral of U.S. Representative Sam Rayburn (D-TX),10 who during his long public career served as speaker of the Texas House for a short time at the age of 29 and then later for 17 years as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Perry graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1968. He then attended Texas A&M University, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, was elected senior class social secretary, and was also elected as one of A&M's five yell leaders.1415 Perry graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in animal science.1617
Perry said that the Corps of Cadets gave him the discipline to complete his animal sciences degree and earn a commission in the air force. In a 1989 interview he said that "I was probably a bit of a free spirit, not particularly structured real well for life outside of a military regime, I would have not lasted at Texas Tech or the University of Texas. I would have hit the fraternity scene and lasted about one semester."16 Perry was a prankster in college: he once placed live chickens in the closet of an upperclassman during Christmas break and used M-80 firecrackers to prank students using the toilet.16
In the early 1970s, Perry interned during several summers with the Southwestern Company, as a door-to-door book salesman. "I count my time working for Dortch Oldham [president of the Southwestern Company] as one of the most important formative experiences of my life," Perry said in 2010. "There is nothing that tests your commitment to a goal like getting a few doors closed in your face." He said that "Mr. Oldham taught legions of young people to communicate quickly, clearly and with passion, a lesson that has served me well in my life since then."18
Upon graduation in 1972, Perry was commissioned in the United States Air Force and completed pilot training in February 1974. He was then assigned as a C-130 pilot to the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base. Perry's duties included two-month overseas rotations at RAF Mildenhall in England and Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. His missions included a 1974 U.S. State Department drought relief effort in Mali, Mauritania and Chad, and two years later, earthquake relief in Guatemala.19 He left the U.S. Air Force in 1977 with the rank of captain, returned to Texas, and went into business farming cotton with his father.20
In 1984, Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat from district 64, which included his home county of Haskell. He served on the House Appropriations and Calendars committees during his three two-year terms in office. He befriended fellow freshman state representative Lena Guerrero of Austin, a staunch liberal Democrat who endorsed Perry's reelection bid in 2006 on personal, rather than philosophical, grounds.
Perry was part of the "Pit Bulls", a group of Appropriations members who sat on the lower dais in the committee room (or "pit") who pushed for austere state budgets during the 1980s.21 At one point, The Dallas Morning News named him one of the ten most effective members of the legislature.22
In 1987, Perry voted for a $5.7 billion tax increase proposed by Republican governor Bill Clements.23 Perry supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries and worked in an unspecified capacity for Gore's campaign in Texas.24 On September 29, 1989, Perry announced that he was switching parties, becoming a Republican.25
In 1990, as a newly minted Republican, Perry challenged Jim Hightower, the incumbent Democratic Agriculture Commissioner. Hightower had worked on behalf of Jesse Jackson for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, while Perry had supported U.S. Senator Al Gore of Tennessee.
During 1990, Hightower's office was embroiled in a FBI investigation into corruption and bribery. Three aides were convicted in 1993 of using public funds for political fundraising, although Hightower himself was not found to be involved in the wrongdoings.26 Perry narrowly defeated Hightower in November 1990.
As Agriculture Commissioner, Perry was responsible for promoting the sale of Texas farm produce to other states and foreign nations, and for supervising the calibration of weights and measures, such as gasoline pumps and grocery store scales.27
In April 1993, Perry, while serving as Texas agriculture commissioner, expressed support for the effort to reform the nation's health care, describing it as "most commendable".28 The health care plan, first revealed in September, was ultimately unsuccessful due to Republican congressional opposition.2930313233 In 2005, after being questioned on the issue by a potential opponent in the Republican governor primary, Perry said that he expressed his support only in order to get Clinton to pay more attention to rural health care.34
In 1994, Perry was reelected Agriculture Commissioner by a large margin, getting 2,546,287 votes (62 percent) to Democrat Marvin Gregory's 1,479,692 (36 percent). Libertarian Clyde L. Garland received the remaining 85,836 votes (2 percent).35 Gregory, a chicken farmer from Sulphur Springs, Texas, was on the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority with Perry in the early nineties, as a Republican. He became a Democrat before running against Perry in 1994.36
In 1998, Perry chose not to seek a third term as Agriculture Commissioner, running instead for Lieutenant Governor to succeed the retiring Democrat Bob Bullock. During this election, Rick Perry had a notable falling out with his previous top political strategist Karl Rove, which began the much-reported rivalry between the Bush and Perry camps.37 Perry polled 1,858,837 votes (50.04 percent) to the 1,790,106 (48.19 percent) cast for Democrat John Sharp of Victoria, who had relinquished the Comptroller's position after two terms to seek the lieutenant governorship. Libertarian Anthony Garcia polled another 65,150 votes (1.75 percent).35 Perry thus became the state's first Republican lieutenant governor since Reconstruction, taking office on January 19, 1999.
Perry assumed the office of governor on December 21, 2000, following the resignation of George W. Bush – who was preparing to become President of the United States.11 He won the office in his own right in the 2002 gubernatorial election, where he received 57.80% of votes to Laredo oilman and businessman Tony Sanchez's 39.96%.35 He was re-elected in the 2006 gubernatorial election against three major opponents, polling 39% of votes against runner-up former U.S. Congressman Chris Bell of Houston with 29.8%. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Perry became the first Texas governor to be elected to three four-year terms, polling 54.97% of votes to former Houston Mayor Bill White's 42.48%.
In his three gubernatorial campaigns, Perry received hard-money campaign contributions of $102 million, half of which came from 204 donors.38
In the 2001 legislative session, Perry set a record for his use of the veto, rejecting 82 acts, more than any other governor in any single legislative session in the history of the state since Reconstruction.39 4041
In his presidential campaign, Perry has highlighted the economic success Texas achieved under his governorship, although the true success of his policies has been questioned.424344454647 A proclaimed proponent of fiscal conservatism, Perry has often campaigned on job growth and tax issues, such as his opposition to creating a state income tax. Perry refused in 2002 to promise not to raise taxes as governor, and in the following years did propose or approve various tax and debt48 increases.49505152 In 2009, Perry signed Grover Norquist's pledge to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes".
Texas began borrowing money in 2003 to pay for roads and will owe $17.3 billion by the end of 2012, increasing total state debt, from $13.4 billion in 2001 to $37.8 billion in 2011.53 The state's public finance authority sold $2 billion in bonds for unemployment benefits, and it's authorized to sell $1.5 billion more if necessary. Texas federal borrowing topped $1.6 billion in October 2010, before the bond sales.54 Texans voted November 8, 2011 for a Water Works Bill with an additional $6 billion of debt and against new tax breaks for landowners.55 A Republican on the Natural Resources Committee laments “we couldn’t get the votes” which would break Perry's pledge not to raise taxes.56
In 2003, Perry signed legislation that created the Texas Enterprise Fund, which has since given $435 million in grants to businesses. The New York Times reported that many of the companies receiving grants, or their chief executives, have made contributions to Perry's campaigns or to the Republican Governors Association.57 Perry has been criticized for supporting corporate tax breaks and other incentives, while the state government was experiencing budget deficits.5859
As Governor, Perry has been an outspoken opponent of federal health-care reform proposals and of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, describing the latter as "socialism on American soil".60 Perry's focus in Texas has been on tort reform, signing a bill in 2003 which restricted non-economic damages in medical malpractice judgments.61 Perry touted this approach in his Presidential campaign, although independent analysts have concluded that it has failed to increase the supply of physicians or limit health-care costs in Texas.6062
During Perry's governorship, Texas rose from second to first among states with the highest proportion of uninsured residents at 26%, and had the lowest level of access to prenatal care in the U.S.60 Perry and the state legislature have cut Medicaid spending.6063 The Los Angeles Times wrote that under Perry, "working Texans increasingly have been priced out of private healthcare while the state's safety net has withered."63
Perry's office has said that Texas represents a model private-sector approach to health-care. His spokeswoman stated that "Texas does provide an adequate safety net to those truly in need... and many individuals simply choose not to purchase healthcare coverage."63
Perry is pro-life and has signed bills with rules or restrictions for abortion procedures and funding for them.6465 In December 2011, Perry said he had undergone a "transformation" and now opposed all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. The next day he clarified that he would allow an exception for abortions that would save a mother's life.6667
In February 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating that Texas girls receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against some strains of the human papilloma virus, a contributing factor to some forms of cervical cancer.68 Following the move, news outlets reported various apparent financial connections between Perry and the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck.6869 Merck's political action committee has contributed $28,500 since 2001 to Perry's campaigns.70 The order was criticized by some parents and social conservatives, and a lawsuit was filed later that month.71 In May 2007, the Texas Legislature passed a bill undoing the order; Perry did not veto the bill, saying the veto would have been overruled, but blamed lawmakers who supported the bill for the deaths of future cancer victims.72
Perry grew up in the United Methodist Church, and he and his family have been members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church since the 1990s (the same church that former President George W. Bush attended in Austin, Texas) until 2010 when Perry and his family began attending the large, nondenominational evangelical megachurch, Lake Hills Church that is also located in Austin.1 The Statesman reported that the Lake Hills offers a completely different service performance than what Perry experienced within the United Methodist Church services: "They dunk," Perry said. "Methodists sprinkle." In 2006, Perry stated that he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and that those who do not accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell. He later clarified, "I don't know that there's any human being that has the ability to interpret what God and his final decision-making is going to be."75 In his 2008 book On My Honor, Perry expressed his views on the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. "Let's be clear: I don't believe government, which taxes people regardless of their faith, should espouse a specific faith. I also don't think we should allow a small minority of atheists to sanitize our civil dialogue on religious references."76 In June 2011, Perry proclaimed August 6 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting, inviting other governors to join him in a prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association in Houston.7778 The event was criticized as going beyond prayer and fasting to include launching Perry's presidential campaign.79
Perry has called himself "a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect", and has expressed support for its teaching alongside evolution in Texas schools, but has also said that "educators and local school officials, not the governor, should determine science curriculum."80
Perry has repeatedly attacked the Robin Hood plan to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. In 2005, following rejection of Perry's proposal to replace the Robin Hood plan, Perry vetoed all funding for public schools for the 2007–2008 biennium, saying he would not "approve an education budget that shortchanges teacher salary increases, textbooks, education technology, and education reforms. And I cannot let $2 billion sit in some bank account when it can go directly to the classroom."81 Following a second rejection of Perry's bill, Perry asked John Sharp to head a task force charged with preparing a bipartisan education plan, which was subsequently adopted.8283
In 2001, Perry expressed his pride in the enactment of the statute extending in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who meet Texas' residency requirements. It also required the undocumented students to pledge to apply for permanent residency or citizenship if this became a possibility for them.84
In 2002, Perry described the Texas same-sex anti-sodomy law as "appropriate".85 The United States Supreme Court's civil rights decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) struck down the statute Perry referred to the following year for violating the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Perry supported the 2005 ballot proposition which amended the Texas constitution by defining marriage as "only a union between a man and a woman" and prohibiting the state from creating or recognizing "any legal status identical or similar to marriage".86 In 2011, after New York legalized same-sex marriage, Perry stated that it was their right to do so under the principle of states' rights delineated in the Tenth Amendment.87 A spokesman later reiterated Perry's support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying that position was not inconsistent since an amendment would require approval by three-fourths of the states.88
In his first book, On My Honor, published in 2008, Perry drew a parallel between homosexuality and alcoholism, writing that he is "no expert on the 'nature versus nurture' debate", but that gays should simply choose abstinence.89 During the 2012 presidential campaign, he criticized the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell".90 He said that using foreign aid as a policy tool against foreign countries which do not give full rights to homosexuals was “not in America’s interests”.91
Jeff L. Blackburn, chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas, said of Perry that "He has done more good than any other governor we've ever had ... unless, of course, it involves the death penalty. On the death penalty, Rick Perry has a profound mental block."94
Perry supports the death penalty.96 In June 2002, he vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally retarded inmates.93 As of August 10, 2011, Texas has carried out 234 executions since Rick Perry became governor.97 Cases in which Perry has been criticized for his lack of intervention include those of Cameron Todd Willingham, Frances Newton, and Mexican nationals José Medellín and Humberto Leal Garcia.9899100101
Perry commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, who was convicted of murder despite evidence that he was only present at the scene of the crime.102 Perry also pardoned Tyrone Brown, who was sentenced to life in a Texas maximum security prison for smoking marijuana while on probation.103 Perry's actions in both these cases were following the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles,102103 without whose recommendation the Governor of Texas cannot issue pardons.104105
In 2001, Perry proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a $145+ billion-dollar project that would build multi-lane highways, rail lines and data lines from Oklahoma to Mexico, and from east to west in southern Texas. Instead of paying for the project with taxes, Perry proposed that it be partially financed, partially built and wholly operated by private contractors, who would subsequently receive all toll proceeds.106 All of Perry's gubernatorial opponents opposed the corridor project, as did the 2006 state party platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties.107108 After much contentious debate between supporters and opponents, an official decision of "no action" was issued by the Federal Highway Administration on July 20, 2010, formally ending the project.
Until 2011, Perry persistently denied aspirations to higher office; he was originally included on the 2012 Presidential Straw Poll ballot at the Values Voter Summit in September 2009, but his name was removed at his own request.112 In April 2008 while appearing as a guest on CNBC's Kudlow & Company, he specifically stated that he would not agree to serve as Vice President in a McCain administration, stating that he already had "the best job in the world" as governor of Texas. Further, during a Republican gubernatorial debate in January 2010, when asked if he would commit to serving out his term if re-elected, he replied that "the place hasn't been made yet" where he would rather serve than the governor of Texas. In December 2010, when asked if he was a "definite maybe" to run for President in 2012, he replied, "a definite no, brother".113
On May 27, 2011, he said he is "going to think about" running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination after the close of the Texas legislative session.114 Perry said in a response to a question from a reporter, "but I think about a lot of things," he added with a grin.115
On August 11, a Perry spokesman said that he will be running for President in 2012, with plans to announce his formal entry into the race the next day, August 12.116117 Perry himself confirmed it on a visit to KVUE, the ABC affiliate in Austin. As the Associated Press bulletin announcing his entry into the race came across the wire, Perry signed and dated a printed copy of the bulletin.118
On August 13, Perry officially announced that he will be running for president.119
After announcing his candidacy, Perry immediately became a serious contender for the race, with a poll released by Rasmussen Reports on August 16, 2011 showing him leading in the Republican field at 29 percent, with the eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney at a distant second at 18 percent and the then-front runner Michele Bachmann at 13 percent.120 Perry hoped that Texas' own record of job growth in contrast to the rest of the country could persuade voters that he could reverse the economic downturn.121 However, by September Perry's campaign began to suffer following a number of poor performances at debates. Perry suffered even further following a November 2011 debate in which he was unable to name one of the three government agencies that he would eliminate as president; he later identified the third agency as the Department of Energy.122
In October 2011, the Washington Post reported that Perry's family leases a hunting camp once called "Niggerhead". According to some local residents interviewed by the Post, the Perrys used the camp for years before painting over a large rock with that name on it, which stands at an entrance to the area, and during this time Perry hosted friends and supporters at the camp.123 Perry's campaign disputed the claims, stating that the Perrys painted over the rock almost immediately after acquiring a lease on the property in 1983.124125 The Washington Post news reporter filing the October 1, 2011 news report interviewed seven people "...who spoke in detail of their memories of seeing the rock with the name at various points during the years that Perry was associated with the property through his father, partners or his signature on a lease."126
On December 6, Perry released a Presidential campaign video on YouTube called "Strong" discussing his religious beliefs, as well as criticism of Obama's governance.127 The video states "there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." The video has been largely criticized in the on-line community and has received over 750,000 dislikes on YouTube.128
Perry came in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses and skipped the New Hampshire primary. With polls showing Perry trailing in the upcoming South Carolina primary, Perry announced on January 19, 2012, that he would be dropping out of the 2012 presidential race. Perry initially endorsed Newt Gingrich, but then endorsed Mitt Romney in April after Gingrich announced that he was suspending his campaign.129
In September 2012, an article stated that Perry "had major health issues too – a serious but previously undiagnosed sleep disorder [sleep apnea] that was discovered just as the front-runner label was slipping from his hands", which contributed to his losing the candidacy.130
By the end of his third full term, he will have served up to 14 consecutive years in office once his third full term expires. The University of Texas at Austin–Texas Tribune Poll released on June 17, 2013, showed Perry leading potential primary challenger Attorney General Greg Abbott by double digits, 45–19%.131 In February, the same poll had Perry leading by a 3-to-1 margin (49–17%) of 32 points over Abbott.132
Perry decided not to run for re-election to a fourth full term, announcing on July 8, 2013 that he would retire instead in front of family and supporters at the Holt Cat Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.5 Perry will retire with the 10th longest gubernatorial tenure in United States history at the end of his term on January 20, 2015 at 5,144 days.133 Unnamed sources said to be close to Perry told the National Review that Perry may focus on another White House bid for 2016.6
Rick Perry has written two books:
- On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For was published in February 2008.134 In his book, Perry celebrates the positive impact of the organization on the youth of America and criticizes the ACLU for its legal actions against the Boy Scouts of America.135
- His second book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, was published in November 2010.136 Perry's second book discusses his support for limited central government.
Perry has also written a lecture about the role of the federal government and the military in disaster management titled Federalizing Disaster Response.137
In 1982, Perry married Anita Thigpen, his childhood sweetheart whom he had known since elementary school. They have two grown children, Griffin and Sydney. Anita Perry attended West Texas State University and earned a degree in nursing. She has spearheaded a number of health-related initiatives such as the Anita Thigpen Perry Endowment at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which focuses on nutrition, cardiovascular disease, health education, and early childhood development.138 Anita has also helped develop and host the Texas Conference for Women.139
In 2001, the American Cowboy Culture Association, based in Lubbock, handed Perry its "The Top Cowboy of Texas" award. In accepting the honor, Perry cited the importance of his father, Ray Perry, and a former neighbor in Haskell County, the late Watt R. Matthews (born 1899), who Perry said taught him "not only about Texas and [its] history ... but also about the importance of the values that we learned growing up in a rural environment".140
|Texas Gubernatorial Election 2002|
|Republican||Rick Perry (Incumbent)||2,617,106||58.1|
|Texas Gubernatorial Election 2006141|
|Republican||Rick Perry (Incumbent)||1,716,792||39.02||-19.08|
|Independent||Carole Keeton Strayhorn||796,851||18.11|
|Independent||Richard “Kinky” Friedman||547,674||12.44|
|Texas Gubernatorial Election 20104|
|Republican||Rick Perry (Incumbent)||2,733,784||54.97||+15.95|
|Independent||Andy Barron (Write-In)||7,973||0.16|
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- Texas Board of Elections as of July 24, 2009
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- Governor Rick Perry official state site
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- Biography at the National Governors Association
- Profile at Ballotpedia
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- Biography, interest group ratings, public statements, votes and actions, and campaign finances at Project Vote Smart
- Fact-checking at PolitiFact.com
- Financial information at FollowTheMoney.org
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Works by or about Rick Perry in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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- Rick Perry at the Open Directory Project
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- The Perry Trap at The Austin Chronicle
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- Rick Perry 2012 at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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