The EFM Feature

After two debates with Governor Perry, I’m stumped.  Truly and honestly stumped.  The conventional wisdom says that Perry is the conservative hope while Mitt is the “establishment” hope.  But is that right?

There’s no doubt that they have different positions on specific issues.  While Perry seems more conservative (though I think less prudent) on social security, Mitt is more conservative on immigration.  Regarding health care, their Obamacare position is virtually identical, and they both advanced state-level programs that are problematic to many conservatives.  At least Mitt’s health care plan passed with bipartisan support after extensive consultations with leading conservative think tanks.  Perry’s HPV mandate was an exercise of pure executive power, then he went on to demonize his opponents when they reacted against a decision that was, frankly, authoritarian.

Even their pasts are similar.  Yes, Mitt has the YouTubes from his debates with Ted Kennedy, but Perry campaigned for Al Gore.  Mitt is a pro-life convert, but Perry endorsed a pro-choice candidate for president in 2008.

On foreign policy, I’m having trouble determining where Perry stands.  His answer on Afghanistan was incoherent (how do you pull out and maintain a presence at the same time?), but I’m not sure that there’s a huge difference between the governors.  It’s hard to imagine either of them doing what Obama is doing now in Iraq and Afghanistan — defying the generals to rush a drawdown in time for 2012.

Or is it style over substance?  Texans just seem more conservative, don’t they? But y’all, an accent doesn’t make you conservative.

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are both conservative, both would give Barack Obama the run of his life, and both are capable of pulling America back from the brink.  But it’s simply not the case that conservatives are compromising if they choose the former governor of Massachusetts over the current governor of Texas.

Comments and Discussion

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24 Responses to An Honest Question: Why do People Think Perry is More Conservative than Mitt?

  1. Vineyard says:

    It’s the word conservative that is the problem. I consider myself conservative on some things, liberal on others, libertarian on others, but not in ways that might be expected.

    In my opinion, I favor Romney because he shows a basic understanding of working within the system of government. He exercises proper restraint and trusts the process. This is why he actually included Dems on Ma. Health Care. In addition, Romney follows closely and understands many ideas set forth in the Federalist Papers. Read them and you will recognize in Romney, a candidate that is very much in line, with what our Founders believed to be solid governing.

    With that said, I am sure Perry would be fine as President. As we get to know more about him, we can assess his actions in context, and decipher as best we can, his mindset regarding the role of government.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I believe that Mitt will work in Washington. I think if Perry wins. Washington doesn’t move much. I want movement in Washington….jobs for this nation….not infighting.

  2. Really both are conservative in that they embrace reduced spending and lower taxes. But it turns out there are more issues to address than $$$.

    Perry has John Wayne persona which works great in the movies and plays well in Texas [I attended pilot training in Big Spring, lived in San Antonio, and Houston for 3 years]. But Texas isn’t the USA. Like Huntsman, Perry isn’t ready for prime time in that his positions and their rationale lack the nuance that only a national campaign experience provides.

    While it is true that Mitt has switched on a couple of issues, they pale in comparison with Perry’s support of Gore and then switching parties.

    More will be revealed about Perry which will be his downfall. If he believed an authoritarian approach was appropriate for the vaccine issue then there are other issues out there which will demonstrate the same leadership style.

    • Lori Patriot says:

      There is a huge difference between a JFK Democrat like Reagan was and a Carter/Clinton/Gore democrat. Perry supported socialists until Rove “flipped” him. He also is for in state tuition for illegal aliens and their children. Encouraging more illegal entry into our country only promotes more law breaking and over whelming of the system. He was against the fence as well and mocked any efforts to enforce existing law. He also met with the New World Order Bilderberg elite in 2007 in Turkey. He admits it and it is documented. Our country is in dire straights in part due to unregulated invasion of our country.

      This group is behind Agenda 21 and meets to decide world affairs in secrecy. Perry says that they never invited him back but the real question is why did they invite him? Clinton (heads the Trilateral Commission), Hillary and Obama all met with this same elite group a few years before they got into the positions they hold now. Perry went behind the backs of the legislature to mandate a controversial shot. He got Merck off the hook legally by making the drug mandated by the government. His excuse that he wanted young girls not sexually active to be required to have e a shot protecting them from a sexually transmitted disease that in rare cases causes cervical cancer is hard to accept. Why was it mandated? Who pushed for it to be? Why did he receive more in donations from Merck than was first stated? Our country has been slipping towards Communism for some time. We need a country that has less government interference and Big Brother tactics. Read the goals of the left that have been slowly eroded our culture, founding and rights over the past 50 years. They have achieved almost all they set out to do in America after the collapse of Communism in the USSR.

      Our country needs a leader with the skills, experience, diplomacy, dedication, qualifications, integrity and courage to take on the problems and hard decisions ahead. Mitt Romney has shown leadership, ingenuity,
      perseverance and fortitude while in the private sector, as a Governor of a liberal state and as chair of the
      Olympics right after 911. America is fortunate to have a person of Governor Romney’s caliber and exceptional skills step forward for the hard work of restoring America ahead.

  3. Gregory Lee says:

    While I agree with much of this post, I find the observation of Governor Romney as a “pro-life convert” questionable at best. When running against Sen. Kennedy (and in order to even have a shot at competing), Romney acknowledged that he would not attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s a far cry from fighting for the right of women to murder their unborn children. Romney merely acknowledged that Congress and the Supreme Court had already acted and he wouldn’t single-mindedly seek to overturn the ruling. As a former Mormon Bishop, however, he would have been excommunicated from his church for encouraging anyone to have an abortion. I strongly believe this is not an issue of a “flip-flop” or a “mighty change of heart.” It’s merely a matter of Mitt focusing on the greater good at the time which was clearly to dethrone a Kennedy.

    To draw a parallel from the life of the only perfect example, Jesus could have spent His entire earthly ministry in the Temple Courts with a menacing whip. However, He chose to do so only once when the time was right and His Father instructed Him to do so. There were simply far too many other things to be done in a short space of time.

    • Michael Fry says:

      I believe you can find the official position of the Mormon Church’s stance on abortion on I am NOT a spokes person for the church but there are instances that the church allows abortion to be an option. However, it is never for convenience or to prevent unwanted pregnancies from being unchaste. Because of this theological stance (which includes rare exceptions) I don’t see Romney as a flip-flopper on the issue.

  4. Tonya Black says:

    To some people conservative = religion and NOT LDS religion. There is a difference between being pro life in your personal life and pro life in the government. Mitt has always been pro life in his personal life ( 5 sons ).

  5. Crystal Fernando says:

    What evidence do you have that would indicate the Gov Perry has the expertise to pull America “back from the brink?”

    He certainly doesn’t have the experience. When has he ever turned around a business – whether it be private sector, non-profit or public sector? When has he negotiated with a hostile, overwhelmingly partisan-led branch whose compromise is essential to moving forward policy? I know Gov. Romney has done these things .. numerous times, with great success, on a local level, state level and international level .. I’m still looking for anything that Gov Perry can point to. Additionally, Gov Perry’s job record includes a huge chunk of government jobs (that takes $$ away from the economy; it doesn’t put $$ into it) and he “fixed” his debt problem with government “stimulus” funds. None of these “solutions” & other benefits that Perry had as a governor of a conservative, oil-rich state, work when you are running a diverse, overwhelming large enterprise the like USA.

  6. Carmen says:

    I wonder if it is easier to be a conservative in Texas…Would Perry be as conservative if he were governor of Massachusetts and would Romney be more conservative if he were governor of Texas?

    • Rodney says:

      GOOD CALL! Mitt’s constant efforts to help people realize the environment he worked in versus that of Perry seems to be overlooked. Comparing a general’s loss of troops in Afghanistan to a general stationed in Japan would be an uneven comparison. One is dealt a pair of 4′s while the other, well, “4 aces.” Consider the battle ground. That said, success by the Afghanistan general would be all the more impressive!

      • Rodney says:

        Sorry, I want to clarify what I was trying to say. Like Carmen said, if Romney was in Texas he would be allowed to be able to be more conservative and still be effective. Since it was Massachussetts, he had to work within the environment to make a difference. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If we do not learn to sacrifice small differences of opinion, we can never act together. Every man cannot have his way in all things. If his own opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at other times (The Real Thomas Jefferson, p.568).” The Constitution would never have come about if opposing views did not “acquiesce” at times. Romney did phenomenal as a conservative given the environment he was in.

  7. Dan says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been wondering this ever since Perry got in the race. As each debate unfolds, this myth is going to be dispelled. Gov. Romney was the most conservative of the top 6 candidates in 2008 and he is the most conservative out of the top 2 this time around.

  8. Terry Tippets says:

    Gregory Lee says: “As a former Mormon Bishop, however, he [Mitt Romney] would have been excommunicated from his church for encouraging anyone to have an abortion.” That statement is not accurate. The official position of the LDS church on the matter is as follows:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

    “The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:
    Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
    A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
    A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

    “The Church teaches its members that even these rare exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.

    “The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion.”

    An LDS Bishop is not going to recommend abortion, but will leave that decision up the the person involved. Romney would likely never have been put in that position.

  9. Stephen says:

    Conservatism today has a much different meaning than it did, even two decades ago. Conservatism isn’t as much of political philosophy these days as a label. Weaver, Kirk, Burke, (more would have heard of but probably not read Buckley), etc., would be foreign words to a majority of people who profess their conservatism that is primarily based on sound bites. Perry appears to appeal to many people who prefer shtick to substance.

  10. Mark Evans says:

    Good posts, all! Somehow Mitt has gotten painted — even by the more friendly media — as the ‘moderate’ choice, while Perry and Bachman battle for the conservative mantel.

    Perry would not have an amen chorus in Washington. He would have to try to work with various factions and try to get workable legislature through at least partially hostile houses of Congress. He hasn’t had to do that. Guess what? MITT HAS! He was Red in a state where Red wasn’t cool and still managed to get some positive things done…things wanted by MA residents.

    • ccr says:

      I think Perry would try his Tuff Talkin’ Texan demeanor and we’d have some of the same issues as today…INCLUDING crony capitalism. OR……..he would “abandon” his veneered conservatism and do as he has often done……..”Gov’t knows best” (ie. HPV, Trans TX Corridor)

  11. Leon Goodman says:

    Rick Perry has led with his chin on the issue of his Christian values. He hates Mormons and tried to exterminate them in April, 2007 He did not halt the genocide and capture of Mormon women and 450 children near San Angelo, Texas, he also refused to expatriate them when the Texas Third Court of Appeals ordered him to do so. That bit of hypocrisy should be enough to urge you to help put him down right now before he has a chance to sucker punch Mitt on his pioneer polygamy background.
    A highly place political person tried to smear Mitt in the last election in 2007 by involving the FBI and Texas and a group of dissident Mormons. I know that person was Rick Perry himself. Hypocrisy does not preclude Rick from becoming president but the constitutional abuses he used on a religious minority should earn him a seat in the Hague for creating genocide by transportation of women and children from their homes. Perry is not very constitutional is he?

    • Armando says:

      Leon, Thanks for tiring to defend Mormons in Texas, but the FLDS are not connected to the Mormon church,.
      but your point is well taken , Thank you.

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  14. Real Hope and Change says:

    Thank you for this great article Mr. French! You stated some great insights on Perry’s background of which I was not aware. This only reaffirms my support for Romney as a true conservative and the best nominee to run against the incumbent in 2012! Let’s bring America back!

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