Is Rick Perry at all like George W. Bush?

September 8, 2011 2:48:07 PM PDT
On Monday, we told you that Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to announce on Saturday that he will, in fact, jump into the presidential race. But on Thursday Perry's camp took it one step further at a very opportune time.

Perry said on Monday he was erasing doubt, and Thursday he made a definitive statement. It sounded a lot like a repeat, but on a day when all attention was supposed to focused on an Iowa debate Perry's not in, this gets Perry into the headlines for another day.

As we get into the campaign, get used to seeing pictures of George W. Bush and Rick Perry together. The common knock against Gov. Perry is that he's another Texas governor running for president.

An Associate Press poll in May showed 54 percent of the country has a favorable impression of former President George W. Bush. He left office with approval ratings around 40 percent. It's not a great polling legacy to be tied to. But as Perry launches his campaign, the comparison only goes so far.

Rick Perry is a Texan. An Aggie. A gun lover. A former farmer and rancher. And -- as so many people have pointed out -- sounds a lot like another Texan who ran for president.

"When I close my eyes, he sounds a lot like Bush," said Amy Walter, ABC News Political Director.

And that could be a problem. But for all their look-a-like and sound-a-like, they're not alike.

"Rick Perry is nothing like George W. Bush," said Paul Burka, Senior Executive Editor at Texas Monthly magazine.

Bush was born into a wealthy family and a political dynasty. Perry into a farming family in rural Paint Creek, Texas.

Bush was known to work both sides of the Texas legislative aisle. Perry said in June, "The political left are never going to like us, so let's stop trying to curry favor with them."

Bush called himself the "compassionate conservative." Perry is not, says Burka.

"He is as tough and mean and as hard a guy as there's been," Burka said.

Perry's policies are conservative, even among Republicans. And his politics can be bare-knuckled.

In 2002, a Ricky Perry ad linked his opponent, Tony Sanchez, to money-laundering drug runners. And in 2010, he muddied Bill White's ethics.

His campaign used them both to move up in the polls. Keep in mind, Perry has won every race he's entered. That's a 9-0 record.

"He has every reason to be a very confident political operative," Burka said.

But this year, experts suggest the confidence could hurt if voters are looking for someone to get Washington to start working together again.

"The idea of somebody like Rick Perry, who has very much of a swagger, coming in and presenting that image to the American voter, I don't think it's going to sit all that well," Walter said.

On Saturday, Perry will be in South Carolina to formally get into the race and stealing some of the attention from the well-watched Iowa Straw Poll.

On Sunday, Perry will be in Iowa, again stealing that spotlight. But Michelle Bachmann's not going to let him. She just accepted an invitation to appear at the same dinner as Perry.

It's getting good early.

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