Politico asks the question out loud.
The answer from Perry’s friends and supporters is not reassuring.
“If he should know about John Locke, he’ll know about John Locke,” said [Tex lobbyist and Perry supporter] Bill Miller. “If it’s not on his schedule, it’s irrelevant to him.”
In other words: his aides run him.
His policy focus as governor hasn’t been complex – it’s almost entirely jobs and business-focused – but that’s not where Perry’s mind is, say those who know him.
He’s a power politician and very canny one. And what seems to animate him is competition.
Whether it is winning elections, beating out other states in attracting jobs or besting them for college football recruits, Perry is ferociously single-minded.
In other words: he is keenly political, but has little policy focus – which will be some handicap for a president who will face after 2013 the toughest economic policy challenges since the 1930s.
“There were some guys we always thought were the brainiacs, the ones who got into the minutiae of legislation,” recalled Cliff Johnson, an Austin lobbyist and close Perry friend and former roommate from their days serving together as Democratic legislators. “We sought information from trusted folks.”
In other words: lobbyists will run him.
Trained as an Air Force pilot right out of A&M, Perry was “taught to trust your information,” said Johnson.
And associates say the same lessons that Perry learned when he was flying C-130s apply now.
“Pilots execute flight plans,” said Miller. “They have a plan, they fly a certain pattern and that’s the way he’s always operated — he has a flight plan for what he’s trying to do and he executes.”
That’s quite an insult to combat pilots, who must react, respond and improvise. “Executing the flight plan” seems a terrible way to approach the presidency. It’s the president’s job to write the flight plan.
Mike Baselice, Perry’s longtime pollster, said his client is of the Ronald Reagan school of management: “Trust people and manage well.”
“His job is to go meet voters,” said Baselice. “We’ll figure out the details of the messaging.”
Voters would do well to ask: Who’s this “we” that will really be running the country during a Perry presidency?