Yesterday Texas Governor Rick Perry ended his race for the Republican nomination for President. His brief campaign started with a bang and ended with a whimper — his departure wasn’t even the top news story on a day that featured stories about open marriages and another debate — but it’s worth some reflection.
When Perry came into the race a few months ago he was viewed as a formidable contender. Why not? He is the popular, long-standing governor of one of our largest states. Moreover, Texas’ economic and job-creation performance has been a bright spot during the recent economic doldrums. Perry seemed like a candidate who could present a sharp contrast with President Obama on the job and economic issues that are the primary concerns of most Americans.
Alas for Governor Perry, he just wasn’t ready for a presidential campaign. His stumbling performances in debates caused his poll numbers to shrivel to insignificance and led his potential supporters to look elsewhere. He seemed unsteady, and never could gain traction. The spotlight quickly moved on to others, and by the end of his campaign, Perry had become almost an irrelevant figure.
Perry’s rise and fall shows that running for President is different in kind, and not just in degree, from other political races. The intensity of media scrutiny and criticism, the crucial role of capable staffing and planning, the paramount need to respond quickly and forcefully to missteps or changed circumstances — all of these distinguish a presidential campaign from, say, a governor’s race in your home state.
The story of Rick Perry is one that every potential candidate for President should consider before they make the decision to run. Seeking the presidency is brutal. Are they truly ready, where he wasn’t?