Giving credence to political prognosticators saying Rick Perry is definitely running for president in 2012, the "dreamy" Texas governor is grabbing national headlines for himself with some unorthodox political maneuvers.
The first one is his endorsement of a bill that runs the risk of making Texas a no-fly zone. No kidding: "Texas lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill Wednesday that would effectively outlaw many routine airport searches by the Transportation Security Administration," reports Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones. It threatens TSA screeners with jail time if they touch the "anus, sexual organs, or breasts" of a passenger without probable cause. When news of the bill first circulated, the Obama administration vowed to sue the state and cancel flights, which forced a "rattled state Senate" to back away from the bill. But last week, Perry put it back on the agenda "perhaps seeing a high-stakes fight with the feds as fuel for a presidential bid," writes Harkinson.
Another move circulating today is Perry's new video PSA, "a call to prayer for a nation in crisis," which is in conjunction with a Christian event at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Now calls for prayer aren't unusual for the Lone Star governor. In April he called for three "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas" following a severe drought. But that was for people of "all faiths." As Salon's Justin Elliott notes, "Now Perry, these days a pundit-approved Possible Presidential Contender, is taking his advocacy for public prayer a step further -- and in a distinctly non-inclusive direction." A statement issued by Perry on the event's website calls on Texans to "come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy." The video PSA repeats the message:
Is Perry upping the Jesus talk ahead of a presidential announcement? We have no idea. But his populist fight with the TSA, which could involve the cancellation of flights to the state, sounds a lot like what The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam call the "money blurt," a move to appeal to the base of a party in a campaign:
Here’s how it works: An up-and-coming politician blurts out something incendiary, provocative or otherwise controversial. The remark bounces around the blogs and talk shows and becomes a sensation.
And in the midst of it all, the politician’s fundraisers are manning the phones and raking in the donations...
The use of money blurts could have a significant impact on the strength of some candidates’ fundraising efforts, which will come into focus next month with the release of fresh disclosure forms for GOP presidential campaigns.