Road ahead may be rough for Gov. Perry
But after disavowing for a year any interest in running for president, Perry said a couple of weeks ago that he’s thinking about it.
Perry now should brace for a whole new level of scrutiny that goes with running for president. Several politicians have found when they express interest in being the leader of the free world, things they thought they’d put behind them, or that nobody knows about, slap them in the face.
In October of 1991, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who had been re-elected governor in 1990, said he was running for president in 1992.
In November, wife Hillary visited Austin. I had a one-on-one interview with her in the Linoleum Club, as we called the coffee shop in the Texas capitol basement.
At the end of the interview, I asked the question I thought might shut it down.
“Rumors continue about your husband womanizing,” I said, or words to that effect. “Is that a problem?”
“Oh, no,” Hillary responded. “We put all that behind us in the 1990 governor’s race.”
A few weeks later, on Jan. 23, 1992, just before the New Hampshire primary, a supermarket tabloid published a story about Gennifer Flowers’ claim of a longtime affair with Clinton.
Three days later, Bill, with Hillary at his side, went on CBS’ 60 Minutes immediately following the Super Bowl to deny the charge.
The day after that, Flowers held a press conference to play tapes of telephone conversations she had secretly recorded.
His staff acknowledged it was Clinton’s voice, but argued that the tapes had been selectively edited. Clinton survived and won the nomination, and presidency.
It was not until five years later, in a civil suit about another alleged Clinton sexual impropriety, that Clinton acknowledged he’d had sex with Flowers – one time.
One famous political implosion was Gary Hart, a 12-year United States senator from Colorado. In 1987, when Hart was running for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, reporters asked if he was fooling around.
“Follow me around,” he challenged. “I don’t care. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They’ll be very bored.”
Problem was two Miami Herald reporters had staked out his townhouse. They saw a young woman leaving Hart’s townhouse at night. One thing led to another, and the disclosures melted down Hart’s candidacy.
In the closing days of George W. Bush’s presidential run in 2000, news broke about a previously unreported DUI arrest in Maine decades earlier. He survived, but barely.
When former Texas U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm was seeking the 1996 GOP nomination, a national reporter discovered Gramm had invested in a soft-core porn movie.
Pat Buchanan upset Gramm in Louisiana’s caucus. Then he finished fifth in the Iowa caucus. End of campaign.
John Ensign, the former United States senator from Nevada, was mentioned as a possible nominee on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket. Scrutiny turned up he’d had an affair with a top aide.
Ensign quit the Senate on the eve of an investigation into his family allegedly paying hush money to keep it quiet. Ensign may face criminal charges.
John Edwards, former United States senator from North Carolina, was Democrat John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. Edwards, who tried for the 2008 presidential nomination, was later found to have fathered a child with a campaign aide, while Mrs. Edwards was suffering from cancer.
Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, was mentioned as someone to fill out a possible Republican running mate. Turned out he wasn’t on the Appalachian Trail as he’d told his staff, but in Argentina seeing his mistress. Over and out.
Perry’s been appealing to Christian conservatives – a lot. He’s even hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston Aug. 6, financed by the American Family Association, a vehemently anti-homosexual group.
National media will be looking for overlaps in Perry’s political donations and state grants he oversees, his appointments, record and character. Partnering with the anti-gay group will tee him up for re-inspection of a widespread but never-proven rumor about a gay affair.
That 2004 rumor spread around the world. Several weeks after it began, no mainstream media had been able to corroborate it. But it became so pervasive that Perry asked Austin American-Statesman reporter Ken Herman to interview him so he could deny it.
Perry said he’d run several races, against opponents “who have probably gone through my background about as well as you can.” The former Air Force pilot compared his political career to “a bombing mission. . . . The missiles come up on a regular basis. I know they’re going to come.”
Running for president, the warheads may be bigger.
Contact McNeely at email@example.com or (512) 458- 2963.