Terrance Heath

Perry Puckers Up

Filed By Terrance Heath | May 06, 2012 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, presidential endorsements, Republican primaries, Rick Perry

We can probably expect to see more of this. It will no doubt go on through the Republican convention. I mean the parade of Republican presidential wannabees now preparing to kiss up to Mitt Romney after attacking him so viciously -- and accurately -- during the seemingly interminable GOP primaries. (Which, by the way, are not officially over yet.) One of the latest to apply the chapstick and pucker up is Texas governor Rick Perry.

You may remember Rick Perry from his family’s unfortunately-named hunting camp, video highlights from his inspired New Hampshire speech, or the “strong” reaction to his viral web ad. Most recently. however, the man who arguably had the best hair in the Republican presidential field made news for flipping his endorsement to Mitt Romney.

Rick Perry - Caricature

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday affirmed his support for likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, after initially backing Newt Gingrich’s rival campaign following his own withdrawal from the race.

“Mitt Romney has earned the Republican Presidential nomination through hard work, a strong organization, and disciplined message of restoring America after nearly four years of failed job-killing policies from President Obama and his administration,” the Texas governor said in a statement. “So today I join the many conservative Republicans across the nation in endorsing Mitt Romney for President and pledge to him, my constituents, and the Republican Party than I will continue to work hard to help defeat President Obama.”

Perry praised Romney’s “vision and record of private sector success.”

His announcement came following reports that Gingrich would exit the race next week.

Gingrich is officially out as of tomorrow, and is expected to endorse Romney. It makes sense that Perry would follow Newt’s lead and endorse Romney, since he followed Newt’s lead so well in attacking Romney during the primaries.

As much as I’d like to take credit for teaching Rick Perry the term “vulture capitalism” with my post from early January, I can’t do so honestly. After all, Newt Gingrich made attacking Mitt Romney’s days at Bain Capital so easy that even Rick Perry (whom Paul Begala dubbed “the candidate for those who thought George W. Bush was too cerebral”) could do it. And do it. And do it.

He may be praising Romney’s “vision and record of private sector success” now, Rick denounced Romney’s record as “vulture capitalism” as recently as January (just days after my post, by the way).

Addressing a retiree community in South Carolina, Perry criticized Romney’s Bain Capital firm for two business deals that caused job losses in the state. He said private equity firms are “just vultures” that feed off sick companies no matter the human toll.

Campaigning in South Carolina, Perry accused Romney of “looting a company in Gaffney, SC.

“I had to shake my head yesterday when one of the wealthiest men I suppose has ever run for the presidency of the United States, the son of a multimillionaire, Mitt Romney, he said ‘I know what it’s like to worry about whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple times when I worried about whether I was going to get a pink slip.’ He actually said this,” the Texas governor said at a campaign stop in Anderson.

“I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips, whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out because his company Bain Capital with all the jobs that they killed, I’m sure he was worried that he’d run out of pink slips,” he continued.

Perry brought Bain Capital’s takeover efforts home to South Carolina, saying that Bain “looted” a photo company in nearby Gaffney and a steel company further downstate in Georgetown.

Just a couple of days later, Perry doubled down on Romney’s “vulture capitalism.”

"There's a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism," Perry told Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity Tuesday night. "Venture capitalism we like. Vulture capitalism, no. And the fact of the matter is that he's going to have to face up to this at some time or another, and South Carolina is as good a place to draw that line in the sand as any."

Whether Perry actually thought through the likely reaction to his attacks on Romney’s “vulture capitalism” I can’t say. Perry probably didn’t think Sean Hannity would compare him to to Occupy Wall Street, or that Rush Limbaugh would compare his to Fidel Castro. Newt’s attack amounted to a convenient bandwagon that had plenty of media buzz following it. Perry probably jumped aboard without thinking that he was joining Newt in asking questions that Republicans aren’t capable of asking.

So what changed Rick Perry’s mind? Gingrich and Santorum are expected to endorse Romney, but other former Republican contenders appear to be in no hurry to endorse the all-but-inevitable nominee. Maybe Perry is hoping for another $10,000 bet. Or maybe Perry’s just beating the rush and jumping aboard the last bandwagon left.

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