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Over the years, US presidential elections have been highly contested position. The main reason for this is the fact that candidates are carefully scrutinized by the citizens through public debates held on the Televisions such as CNN, Fox TV, radio stations, and currently on social media like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace among other notable forms of interactions. As evidenced by the 2008 presidential elections, where presidential hopefuls such as Mrs. Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the current President, Mr. Barrack Obama, it is clear that public forums such as interviews, rallies are highly vital for the success of any hopeful candidate. In US, most elections are mainly viewed as a race between two major parties namely; The Republican Party also refereed to as the GOP (Grand Old Part) and The Democratic Party, which won the last elections with a whooping majority (Ramsey 58).  Since the Democratic Party took over the office in 2008, there have been many problems facing the party and the country in general. Most of these problems are due to global financial crises and some of the cost cutting measures adopted by the ruling party aimed at streamlining the US and global economy as well. Consequently, these policies adopted by the ruling party have not been well received by most Republicans, who still feel there is more to be done for America to maintain its image in the global level. To rectify the problem, several republicans such as Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry among others have come up for the presidential primary elections to challenge president Barrack Obama in 2012 presidential elections (Beaumont 8). This paper critically evaluates recent debates that have been carried out by James Richard ‘Rick’ Perry in a bid to win 2012 presidential nomination on Republican Party.

Background on James Richard ‘Rick’ Perry

James Richard ‘Rick’ Perry, who was born in 1950, is forty-seventh and the currently Texas Governor (Ramsey 66). A Republican, Rick Perry was elected in 1998 as the Governor of Texas and assumed governorship in 2000 (Eggen 35). This is when George W. Bush, who was then the governor in the state, resigned to become president of the US. Before the year 2010, Perry was the second longest serving governor in the US after Terry Branstad, the governor of Lowa. In addition, Perry has served as the Chairman of the RGA (Republican Governors Association) (Parker 77). Richard won 2010 gubernatorial elections in the Republican Party, where he defeated major contestants, such as Kay Bailer Hutchison and later won Texas gubernatorial elections as indicated by the table below.

Texas Gubernatorial elections in 2010

Party

Candidate

Votes

Republican

Rick Perry

2,733, 785

Democratic

Bill White

2,102,605

Libertarian

Kathie Glass

109, 097

Green

Deb Shafto

19,452

(Eggen 36)

On 13th August 2011, while in South Carolina, Rick announced that he was running for nomination under Republican Party for nomination for the president of the US in 2012 presidential elections (Beaumont 11).

Public debates carried out by Rick Perry

Perry has persistently denied his high aspirations for the higher office. Originally, he was included in the 2012, presidential Straw polls ballots, at VVS (Values Voter Summit) in 2009, but was later removed at his personal request (Kuhnhenn 46). In 2008, he refused to be the running mate of john McCain claiming that he has done the best job in the world as the governor of Texas (Ramsey 64). Despite his strong presidential candidature, Perry faces financial problems to fund his public debate. This can be attributed to late registration for the nomination process as compared to other candidates, as well as late compliance to the federal rules to finance campaigns. To counter this problem, Rick began aggressive fundraising strategies to help him launch a viable campaign. He depended mostly on the evangelical Christians as his main base and held prayer meetings with his supporters a week earlier prior to starting the campaign. His entry on 13th August this year garnered a tremendous publicity, thus making him an immediate top-tier candidate for this competition. He polled as Republicans frontrunner within few days upon his entry into the race, thus posing serious threats to other candidates, such as Michele Bachmann, one of the Christians Conservatives and many others (Elliott 18).

Ricks’ Economic Focus

As indicated on the prayer meeting held one week prior to announcing his candidature for nominations, Rick clearly views America as “a nation in crisis” (Eggen 34). Since the onset of global financial crises, America economy has experienced reduced economic growth. This can be attributed to low employment levels, unbalanced foreign trades with other developed countries, especially with those in the Asian Continent among other notable aspects (Kuhnhenn 34). For instance, unemployment levels have almost tripled, as major firms such as General Motors, airline companies among other notable employers have opted to reduce their workforce to cut on the operational costs along side other cost cutting measures (Ramsey 61). Therefore, Perry’s campaigns largely focus on matters of economic recovery. Touting on his record as a governor of Texas, Perry has pointed to more than 1.2 million jobs, which he has created during the ten years tenure. Further, he has been touted for Texas low taxes, tough tort reforms and lack of regulation as some of recipe for growth in Texas (Beaumont 21).

The Republican Debate held at the Reagan Library

The view of Perry towards the future of the Americans is well documented during the Republican presidential Debate, which was held on 7th September 2011 in the Simi Valley, California. Among other attendants participating in the debate included Michelle Bachmann, Hernamn Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Governor Jon Huntsman among other top politicians from the Republican Party, some representing particular presidential hopefuls. Prior to this public debate, Governor Perry faced numerous criticisms (Beaumont 20). Some of them included Texas ranking as the lowest in terms of number of students completing high school levels, increased poverty levels, as compared to other states and more residents working at or below required minimum wage. Perry is also criticized for his connection to the Texan cowboy cultures, as well as the Southern drawl that sounded more similar to the George Bush, whom had served as the lieutenant governor. This has made many American voters to link him to the former president, who is highly blamed for bringing the current global financial crises facing the US and other countries globally (Kuhnhenn 34).

 In defence to this, Perry indicated that American requires someone who will get the economy and the country working again, citing the increased employment levels in Texas, against the backdrop of reduced employment levels in other states such as Chicago, California among others (Beaumont 18). Based on the allegation of reduced wage levels paid to a large number of people working in Texas, Governor Perry indicated that 95% of all jobs created in Texas are above the minimum wages. Further, he argued that American people are looking forward for a president who will lower tax burdens and regulation impacts, thus raising economic performance. The other point of focus, which emerged during the public debate, was Social Security. In one of his books, titled ” Fed Up”, Rick terms the current Social Security Scheme in US as the best example of a program, which "violently tossed aside any respect for states' rights" (Beaumont 12). According to him, entire program has a lot of funding problems, thus it can be equated with a Ponzi scheme to the young generation as compared to the old generation (Beaumont 29).

Rick also openly emphasised on the need for American to focus more in the education sector to enable graduates to create job opportunities as opposed to searching for jobs after graduating. He further indicated that Texas has witnessed up to 83% increase in terms of graduation levels during his tenure, as opposed to the critics who viewed it otherwise. For instance, the fourth and eighth grader African-American as well as Hispanic on NACH test have all witnessed progressive increase in Texas (Kuhnhenn 45).

Conclusion

From studying the case above, one can see that Governor Perry is one of the strongest contestants not only for the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries, but also in the upcoming presidential elections.  According to the Associated Press, Perry is viewed as one of the most confident and personable campaigner (Ramsey 60). With focus being on economic crises, Perry has an upper hand due to improved socio-economic progress of the state of Texas as compared to other states in US (Beaumont 41). 

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