Rick Perry: Strengths & Weaknesses

Rick Perry had a semi-memorable run in the 2012 Republican Primaries, mainly due to his polarizing stances, blurbs, and ads. Let’s take a look at what he has going for him as a candidate in 2016, and what he needs to work on if he wants to be a serious contender for the presidency.

What is Rick Perry’s platform and Who Votes for Him?

Rick Perry’s stance is pretty straightforwardly republican, as he steadfastly supports conservative, often religious, values, low government spending, and increased resources for police and military. What puts him past moderate Republicans and into the area of more hardcore conservatives is his unabashedly religion-infused reasoning on social issues such as gay marriage, which often spills into his public speeches and advertisements, and his stance on illegal immigrants.[1] Because of his more extreme stances on social issues, Rick Perry has carved out a niche of religious voters who appreciate his defense of “traditional” Christian values in the face of changing national sentiment. He also enjoys support among border communities who feel threatened by the drug violence in Mexico, and are afraid it might spill over the border and into their neighborhoods.

But despite his strong support with certain demographics, if he is serious about being president he has the incredibly tricky task of widening his voter base without alienating his religious and border community strongholds.

How Will he Improve his Chances?

The Republican Party has already said that one thing crucial to victory in 2016 will be a platform or a candidate that can galvanize at least a sizable portion of the Latino population to vote Republican (or at least to not vote democrat). Rick Perry has already begun to change his stance on Mexican immigration, as he and his administration have drastically toned down the anti-immigrant legislation and rhetoric since the 2012 election, when Latinos voted Democrat at a 3-1 Ratio.[2] He must continue to take a more or less neutral stance while engaging in open-minded debate about possible compromises that will show he is not diametrically opposed to Latino interests.

Social issues such as gay marriage will also require a balancing act so as to not alienate young voters while assuaging the concerns of his traditional Christian base at the same time. He will have to tone down rhetoric such as his “Strong” ad in 2012, in which he criticized the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and accused schools of banning prayer in the same sentence.[1] Younger voters are another bloc which the Republican Party is trying to woo in 2016, and they support equal for LGBT citizens to a much higher degree than old voters. While Rick Perry is highly unlikely to come out in outright support of gay marriage, he will likely reduce his rhetoric on the topic – at least in national appearances and campaign ads.

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