Within days of announcing his run for president, Texas Governor Rick Perry, 61, has moved rapidly to the front of the Republican pack, pushing ahead of the former leader, Mitt Romney, and rivaling Michele Bachmann for support from the Tea Party.
Gov. Perry, portrays the current government in Washington as an anti-American conspiracy and has promised to make it mostly “inconsequential” to people’s lives. He has suggested that Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a traitor for flooding the economy with trillions of dollars in stimulus money. He has declared himself a “skeptic” that humans are the cause of global warming.
Perry is a big fan of natural gas drilling and coal-fired power plants, in 2005 he issued an executive order that allowed a more rapid approval process for coal plant permits in his state. A major electric company, TXU, sought to build 11 coal-plant units, though those plans ultimately were scaled back after private equity firms bought the company and committed to environmental improvements. “The biggest thing Perry did on energy was to try to fast-track 11 coal plants,” said Jim Marston, the Texas head of the Environmental Defense Fund. “And I think everybody in Texas ought to be glad that Perry’s plan failed.”
But Perry is also a great supporter of wind power, this energy sector has flourished under his administration. After a decade of rapid growth, Texas is now the nation’s leader in wind energy.
Mr. Perry, a Methodist who regularly attends church near his home, is a natural candidate to appeal to the Republican party’s religious right, as well as to parts of its small-government wing, including elements of the Tea Party. He is a fifth generation Texan who grew up in the rural community of Paint Creek, West Texas. Perry graduated from Texas A&M University in 1972, after earning a degree in animal science.