Gotta Face It—Perry’s Growing on Me

Rick Perry horizontal

I’m so afraid of John Dickerson or one of those other governors-make-better-presidents people seeing this.

I mean, how many times have I written in these pages that we really need a Senator now, blah, blah, blah…?

A lot.

And, as all my friends and former Twitter followers will tell you, I’ve been very enthusiastic about Cruz and Rubio (whose strengths I wish I could combine into one candidate).

Walker was growing on me until he sort of imploded.

Now, all of a sudden, Rick Perry is coming on to my radar in a big way.

First I read this…

Jim Geraghty, National Review Online: How Five Years in the Air Force Shaped Rick Perry

Geraghty—who has been providing invaluable GOP candidate background—leads with a crisis Perry faced as a young Air Force commander:

Rick Perry T-38Every presidential candidate wants to assure the electorate that he has a cool head in a crisis. Former Texas governor Rick Perry — once a captain in the U.S. Air Force — will have a leg up on the competition when he tells voters what he did when one of his C-130’s engines exploded in mid-flight. The then-26-year-old Perry and his crew were flying from Bermuda back into the United States. Perry had been a captain for six months, and was less than a month away from leaving the Air Force. He remembers his crew for that flight as “inexperienced but well trained” — a second lieutenant co-pilot and a second lieutenant navigator on his first flight in the squadron. The C-130 was about 24,000 feet above Atlanta, Georgia, when a yellow light on the instrument panel lit up, indicating a potential problem with the No. 3 engine. “Yellow light flashed, yellow light means a possible overheat. When the yellow light stayed on, everybody puckered up. It’s when the red light goes on and stays on, about 45 seconds later — that’s an engine fire,” Perry tells National Review.

Perry says he instructed his co-pilot to begin the shutdown procedure for the engine by pulling the T-handle, which cuts the power and fuel to the No. 3 engine and dumps a substantial amount of fire retardant onto it.

They made it to safety and the takeaway is obvious:

This is a guy who learned early on how to take command in a crisis and make the snap decisions needed to save lives.

I was impressed there, and there was more to Perry’s story after that. You can read the rest here.

Then I read this…

Philip Rucker, Washington Post: How Rick Perry befriended the real ‘Lone Survivor’ Navy SEAL

It seems that Perry has been a father figure to Marcus Luttrell.

Before he became immortalized as the “Lone Survivor,” a Navy SEAL­ who escaped a 2005 Taliban ambush on a mountain slope in Afghanistan, Marcus Luttrell was a broken man in search of a haven.

He found it one day in spring 2007 when, struggling to recover his body and mind and with the horrors of war still raw, he showed up unannounced at the Texas governor’s mansion and asked to see Rick Perry.

Over the ensuing months, a virtual father-son relationship blossomed, the two men said. The governor and his wife, Anita, helped bring Luttrell back to health. Perry used the power of his office to find Luttrell a spine surgeon to fix his back. The Perrys gave him a spare bedroom — “I was the creepy guy in the attic,” Luttrell recalled. The governor took him bass fishing, the first lady counseled him about his love life and, as Luttrell became ­famous — first with a best-selling memoir, “Lone Survivor” and ­later in the movie adaptation — they were his rock.

This story (the rest of it is here) just about did me in.

I’ve said a lot about Perry being governor of a weak-governor state and all that, but these stories.

It’s not just the stories either, or even the life they illustrate.

It’s the fact that the stories appeared at all.

And the timing.

Somebody made them available, and more besides.

This is something that Romney, for instance—who had powerful stories to tell—not only wouldn’t do, but wouldn’t let his friends tell either.

At least until it was too late.

I’d forgotten how good a politician Perry is.

Where I was underestimating him is that, in a weak-governor state, a governor has to be a strong politician.

What other governor is going to match him?

Not Walker, not at this point.

John Kasich? Please.

Jeb Bush has nothing like this.

And that bridge thing is still going to blow up on Christie—if his public temper doesn’t do him in first.

Perry is not my new first choice.

Not yet.

But becoming so is rapidly becoming more possible.

We will see in the debates, huh?

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