Rick Perry’s Campaign Makes a Mistake

Ron Paul’s new ad, “Trust,” may be of questionable value to some. It compares Paul to Perry in their past. Paul was one of the only four members of Congress who endorsed Ronald Reagan, impressed with his philosophy of limited Constitutional government, low taxes and regulations, and non-interventionist foreign policy – the traditional values of American conservatism. Perry is shown to be “Al Gore’s Cheerleader.” It is not clear what audience is expected to be reached by it. Very limited, by the best estimates. But good or bad, the ad is what it is.

Perry’s campaign was quick to respond – which shows they find Paul’s ad painful and dangerous – by digging out Ron Paul’s letter of 1987 where he states his reasons for resigning from the Republican Party, and his disappointment with Ronald Reagan. The idea is, if Rick Perry is shown as flip-flopping around, Ron Paul hasn’t shown much stable loyalties either.

On a closer inspection, though, such response hurts Perry more than it hurts Paul. Because the intelligent readers who take the time to read Paul’s letter, will find out that back in those days he was just as loyal to the principles of conservatism as he is today. The points in Ron Paul’s letter are as follows:

  • The Republican Party has failed to reduce the size of government;
  • The taxes were raised under the Republican administrations;
  • The Federal budget deficits grew uncontrollably; no efforts to a balanced budget were made;
  • Public debt grew uncontrollably, and Republicans did nothing to decrease it;
  • The Federal Reserve has continued the policy of monetary inflation;
  • Reagan’s promises to abolish draft registration, the Departments of Education and of Energy, and to work against abortion were not kept;
  • Under the guise of attacking drug use and money laundering government snooping on law-abiding citizens was expanded;
  • IRS has grown bigger, richer, pore powerful and more arrogant;
  • Foreign intervention has increased instead of – as is traditional conservative policy – decreased.

For these Ron Paul felt disappointed of Reagan and of the Republican Party.

But all these points, every single one of them, are now the points of the growing conservative movement. Specifically, these are the points that resonate so well with the TEA Party. Rick Perry himself has adopted the same rhetoric in the last two years, after the TEA Party became influential in the American politics. So what is he attacking Ron Paul for? For being too conservative? Or for saying 24 years ago the same things Perry is saying today? For being loyal to moral principles rather than to persons and parties? The retort is childish in that it only strengthens Ron Paul’s position of an uncompromising conservative, and it contributes nothing to Perry’s claims of himself.

This is the wrong position. Perry needs to suck it up, and accept calmly that his record will be brought up in a debate. Then his best strategy is to declare that he has “converted” from his previous views and political practice, and present proofs for it. Conservatives – and especially Christian conservatives – understand the concept of conversion and repentance better than anyone else. Perry then needs to position himself as one who praises and admires Ron Paul for his consistency in defending conservative values, and himself would exhibit the same consistency if he became a President. Thus he will be telling the truth about Ron Paul, and will be showing himself a truly gracious and acceptable candidate.

After all, the Republican Party is not a Communist or a Socialist Party; the loyalty to the party is secondary; faithfulness to what is good and righteous is important. That’s where Perry must try to find his niche.