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Rick Perry: The Democrat Years
Texas Tribune ^ | 7-14-11 | Jay Root

Posted on 08/17/2011 6:59:46 AM PDT by nixonsnose

Gov. Rick Perry, a no-apologies conservative known for slashing government spending and opposing all tax increases, is about as Republican as you can get.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Perry spent his first six years in politics as a Democrat, in a somewhat forgotten history that is sure to be revived and scrutinized by Republican opponents if he decides to run for president.

A raging liberal he was not. Elected to represent a slice of rural West Texas in the state House of Representatives in 1984, Perry, a young rancher and cotton farmer, gained an early reputation as a fiscal conservative. He was one of a handful of freshman “pit bulls,” so named because they sat in the lower pit of the House Appropriations Committee, where they fought to keep spending low.

But Perry cast some votes and took a few stands that seem to be at odds with the fiscal conservatism he champions today. The most vivid example is Perry’s support of the $5.7 billion tax hike in 1987, signed by Republican Gov. Bill Clements but opposed by most of the GOP members. The bill passed by a relatively close 78-70 in the Texas House. Even without adjusting for inflation, the legislation triggered the largest tax increase ever passed in modern Texas, according to Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. Today, taking inflation into account, it would be worth more than $11 billion.

The Tribune thanks our Supporting Sponsors Craymer said the new taxes were used to plug a massive budget shortfall, with the money representing about 20 percent of the general revenue raised during that two-year budget period.

Almost a quarter century later, Perry, as governor, was faced with a similarly sized budget shortfall. But he took a markedly different tack in 2011: He opposed any new taxes, and signed a budget that made the first reduction in overall spending on public education since at least 1949.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said votes taken decades ago don’t undermine the governor’s overall record, which he said includes the largest property tax cut in state history, enacted in 2006.

“You can pull votes from the 1980s, but the overall track record is one of fiscal responsibility and conservatism,” Miner said.

As a House Democrat, Perry also co-authored legislation aimed at tripling the amount of money state legislators are paid, House records show. In a 1989 interview with the Abilene Reporter-News, Perry cited the financial hardships Texas legislators faced trying to make a living back home while making a yearly salary of only $7,200 as part-time lawmakers. Voters rejected the proposal in a statewide referendum.

Perry said he could make ends meet only because his father tended to the farm while his wife worked as a nurse in Haskell, her hometown.

“I really don’t know how people in the insurance business or the real estate business do it. That’s one reason I voted for the pay raise,” Perry told the newspaper. “I think all the people of Texas ought to be able to serve.”

Miner said Perry no longer favored giving legislators a pay increase.

Another political move Perry made back then: He was a top Texas supporter and organizer in 1988 for Al Gore, who ran as a southern conservative rather than the populist reformer he eventually became as the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee.

“I came to my senses,” Perry likes to say when asked about his Gore days.

Perry can trace his political heritage back to a great-great grandfather, D.H. Hamilton, a former state legislator from Trinity County. Perry’s own father, Ray Perry, served as a county commissioner in Haskell County for almost 30 years. They were Southern Democrats, from the party that produced politicians like Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

In 1984, Rick Perry, then a young rancher and former Air Force pilot from Paint Creek, about 60 miles north of Abilene, was recruited by fellow Democrats to run for a House seat vacated by Rep. Joe Hanna, according to interviews and news articles. Democrat John Sharp, the former state comptroller who was Perry’s old college buddy, recalls getting a call from Clyde Wells, then the chairman of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents. Wells wondered who might make a good replacement for Hanna.

“I said: ‘Yeah, there was a guy in my outfit who’s from Haskell. Let’s find out if he’s still in the Air Force,” Sharp recalled saying of Perry. “Three weeks later he was in the race.”

Perry easily won and quickly became known as a rising star in the Texas House.

Then-House Speaker Gib Lewis, D-Fort Worth, decided to appoint several freshman lawmakers to the House Appropriations Committee — members he knew he could count on to keep spending low.

“All of them were very conservative guys and had a good head on their shoulders, and that’s how I picked 'em,” Lewis recalled. “When he first came to the Legislature it was predominately white, Democratic, conservative. He was one of them, and I was, too.”

No matter the label beside his name, the news coverage of Perry’s early years reveals the same ambition and enthusiasm for public office that the governor has brought to the national stage as a potential presidential candidate.

In one of the first lengthy newspaper profiles ever written about Perry, in the Abilene Reporter-News, fellow Rep. Cliff Johnson, now a lobbyist and longtime friend, said of the of the West Texas farm boy: “He’s one of the top two or three (representatives) of the freshman class. I think the sky is the limit.”

Perry’s wife, Anita, told the paper a few years later: “He breathes politics.”

At the beginning of his six-year run in the state House, Perry shot down the notion that he might switch parties despite his conservative leanings that put him at odds with his party leaders. After former U.S. Rep. Kent Hance of Lubbock defected to the Republican Party in 1985, Perry told the Abilene paper he was “disappointed,” saying he planned to “change my party” rather than defect to the other side.

“I want the left hand side of the party to make the right hand side of the party comfortable,” Perry was quoted as saying. Hance, now chancellor of Texas Tech University, said he remembers telling Perry, “‘Good luck on it. I don’t think you can do it.' … And sure enough he couldn’t.’’

The gap was obvious by 1989, his last year in the Legislature, when Perry carried a workers' compensation insurance bill that angered the Texas trial lawyers, then a much more powerful force in state politics. That same year The Dallas Morning News named Perry one of the state's ten best legislators, but he was ripped by another publication.

The liberal Texas Observer called Perry the “Benedict Arnold of the Democratic Party” for siding too often with Clements, the Republican governor, and not enough with his Democratic colleagues.

“If the Texas Observer ever says anything good about me, then I’ve been hit on the head and they can send me back home,” Perry quipped.

Rumors that Perry would defect to the GOP — and run against populist Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower — picked up steam by late 1989. On Sept. 29, 1989, he made it official at a Capitol press conference. At his side were GOP chairman Fred Meyer and U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, a former Democrat who was aggressively courting would-be converts.

“I intend to vote the same convictions,” Perry said. “The only difference is there will be an R beside my name.”

Perry’s timing, now legendary, could not have been better. He was one of only two Republicans elected to nonjudicial statewide office in 1990. Eight years later, Republicans swept every one of them.

“Perry has been a risk taker,” said Hance, the party-switcher who became Texas Tech chancellor. “And if you look at Perry’s timing in every race, he’s been the golden guy.”

Chris Hooks contributed to this report.


TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: convert; exdemocrat; formerdemocrat; perry; perryrecord; realignment; rickperry; slickperry; slickrick
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1 posted on 08/17/2011 6:59:53 AM PDT by nixonsnose
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To: nixonsnose

IBTZ.

The Texas Tribune? Do you have an agenda here, FRiend?


2 posted on 08/17/2011 7:01:11 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (The views and opinions expressed in this post are true and correct. Deal with it)
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To: nixonsnose

Reagan was a pro-union Democrat before he came to his senses


3 posted on 08/17/2011 7:03:08 AM PDT by veritas2002
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To: nixonsnose; rlmorel

While the “Texas” Tribune does present some hard news, it is really an arm of GolmanSachs/Soros. It’s a “charity”—!!! Donate to the TT and take that donation off your taxes


4 posted on 08/17/2011 7:04:40 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: nixonsnose

Churchill, perhaps:

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”


5 posted on 08/17/2011 7:06:35 AM PDT by sasquatch
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To: nixonsnose
Another political move Perry made back then: He was a top Texas supporter and organizer in 1988 for Al Gore, who ran as a southern conservative rather than the populist reformer he eventually became as the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee.

Gore was a pro death liberal in 1988.

6 posted on 08/17/2011 7:10:16 AM PDT by FreeReign
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To: nixonsnose

Folks...the Texas Tribune is a leftest rag out of the one socialist shittehole in Texas...our state capital and the home of UT...Austin. Pay little mind to their commie drivel.


7 posted on 08/17/2011 7:12:18 AM PDT by RVN Airplane Driver
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To: FreeReign
Gore was a pro death liberal in 1988.

You need to do some research before making stupid statements. Go back and look at Gore's campaign positions in that race. He opposed federal funding of abortions, was pro-gun, supported allowing a moment of silence in schools, and he and tipper headed up the Parents Music Resource Council. Not a conservative, but not a raging liberal either.

8 posted on 08/17/2011 7:13:51 AM PDT by CA Conservative
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To: CA Conservative

Perry isn’t perfect. Let’s kick him to the curb. /sar


9 posted on 08/17/2011 7:16:32 AM PDT by Clump (the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: veritas2002

Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have chance on FR today.
Texas Legs are hardly overpaid.
Reagan head of Actors Union, unforgivable. /s


10 posted on 08/17/2011 7:19:46 AM PDT by Marty62 (Marty60)
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To: Clump
Perry isn’t perfect. Let’s kick him to the curb. /sar

Some people forget why we have a Congress, don't they.

There were some policies that George W Bush supported that we did not but thank God for a Republican Congress that took the same stand we did.

Hopefully we will increase our majority in the House and win back the Senate.

11 posted on 08/17/2011 7:23:32 AM PDT by tsowellfan
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To: Clump

Yep. Spotty history there. Endorsed Gore, gardasil, and Giuliani. None of them a deal killer, just cause for concern.

If he’s the nominee I’ll probably hold my nose, because there will be an odor of politics-as-usual about him, but at least he’s pro-life and not a communist positioned to make SCOTUS appointments and pull nuclear triggers.


12 posted on 08/17/2011 7:26:05 AM PDT by Lady Lucky
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To: nixonsnose

Nothing in this article bothers me. He was a conservative Democrat. Look at his votes as a Democrat. He was cutting spending from the start. His one vote to increase spending—to increase legislator pay—makes sense. And you have to look at all of this in the context of what happened in the intervening two or three decades. He got a lot more conservative. This isn’t a Mitt Romney type flip flop. Its a long process of being conservative and becoming more conservative.


13 posted on 08/17/2011 7:26:57 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

I agree. People who expect people to not make mistakes or change their mind as they grow are ignorant.


14 posted on 08/17/2011 7:30:08 AM PDT by Fawn (No--bama 2012)
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To: FreeReign
If you can't tell the truth, you aren't much good. Why do you Perry haters always tell lies? Why don't you support your choice with facts?

What does it say about you and those you support if you have to resort to telling lies and half-truths to smear those you oppose?
15 posted on 08/17/2011 7:31:53 AM PDT by Sudetenland (There can be no freedom without God--What man gives, man can take away.)
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To: nixonsnose

Member since 8-4-2011. Welcome, troll.


16 posted on 08/17/2011 7:32:13 AM PDT by OrangeHoof (Obama: The Dr. Kevorkian of the American economy.)
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To: nixonsnose

See also: Reagan Democrats.

— subtitle: Ronald Reagan, the democrat years


17 posted on 08/17/2011 7:33:56 AM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network ("Cut the Crap and Balance!" -- Governor Sarah Palin , Friday August 12 2011, Iowa State Fair)
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To: Responsibility2nd

No agenda.

Just looking for facts about Perry. He was a small town conservative Texas democrat before he became a big time conservative Republican.


18 posted on 08/17/2011 7:35:09 AM PDT by nixonsnose
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To: CA Conservative
Gore was a pro death liberal in 1988.

You need to do some research before making stupid statements. Go back and look at Gore's campaign positions in that race. He opposed federal funding of abortions, was pro-gun, supported allowing a moment of silence in schools, and he and tipper headed up the Parents Music Resource Council. Not a conservative, but not a raging liberal either.

Unbelievable to see such nonsense posted on FreeRepublic. Algore's voting record in the Senate according to the ACU.

1992 100% liberal

1991 86% liberal

1990 91% liberal

1989 81% liberal

1988 91% liberal

1987 94% liberal

1986 91% liberal

1985 83% liberal

Not only was Algore a liberal, he was a pro abortion liberal. Starting in 1985, Algore voted pro abortion. If you would take the time to go to the ACU website instead of posting nonsense, you will see Algore's pro abortion, pro federal funding for abortion votes starting in 1985.

19 posted on 08/17/2011 7:39:21 AM PDT by FreeReign
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

People outside Texas need to know, in order to understand the context, that the Texas legislature meets once every two years and the typical term lasts only five months. That’s why their pay was paltry (and still is) - because it’s a part-time job that doesn’t pay well. I like to think that’s part of the reason for its success is that it attracts people who have to live in the real world the other 3/4ths of the time.

On the one hand, the low pay exposes state legislators to illegal financial inducements in return for votes. On the other hand, you can’t get any legislating done the other 18 months so you need to be able to supplement the income and have something else to do.


20 posted on 08/17/2011 7:40:53 AM PDT by OrangeHoof (Obama: The Dr. Kevorkian of the American economy.)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Cringing Negativism Network

see also: Barack Obama: The Communist Years.

This one hasn’t been completed yet.


22 posted on 08/17/2011 7:42:51 AM PDT by OrangeHoof (Obama: The Dr. Kevorkian of the American economy.)
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To: nixonsnose

i lived in austin for a bit more than a year.

many republicans perry’s age or older were democrats.

they flipped during comrades hillary and bill’s regime.


23 posted on 08/17/2011 7:43:27 AM PDT by ken21 (ruling class dem + rino progressives -- destroying america for 150 years.)
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To: CA Conservative
Algore has always been a flaming liberal, he only gave lip service to a little conservative leaning to keep his senate seat.

http://escapetyranny.com/2011/08/15/why-rick-perry-supported-al-gore-for-prez-in-1988-huh/

24 posted on 08/17/2011 7:49:23 AM PDT by org.whodat (What does the Republican party stand for////??? absolutely nothing.)
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To: org.whodat

http://escapetyranny.com/2011/08/15/why-rick-perry-supported-al-gore-for-prez-in-1988-huh/


25 posted on 08/17/2011 7:49:59 AM PDT by org.whodat (What does the Republican party stand for////??? absolutely nothing.)
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To: Marty62

Reagan voted for FDR all 4 times.


26 posted on 08/17/2011 7:51:48 AM PDT by Huck (Read Antifederalist Brutus)
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To: Huck

Yes and he was anti nuclear power. So what in the hell does Reagan positions have to do with 2011.


27 posted on 08/17/2011 7:56:00 AM PDT by org.whodat (What does the Republican party stand for////??? absolutely nothing.)
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To: nixonsnose

sure seems like this is just one more of orchestrated anti-Perry threads, from either the RP camp, or DU...

this man Perry scares the living daylights out of these folks, because they know that he will kick the heck out of this President, when it comes to the general.


28 posted on 08/17/2011 7:57:40 AM PDT by Chuzzlewit
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To: nixonsnose

He’s about as Republican as you can get?!

Are you using Juan McCain to set the bar?


29 posted on 08/17/2011 7:59:53 AM PDT by Tempest (Ruining the day of corporate butt kissers everywhere.)
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To: nixonsnose
Gov. Rick Perry, a no-apologies conservative known for slashing government spending and opposing all tax increases, is about as Republican as you can get.

Bwahahah. Actually, Perry fits right in with the big government loving, deficit spending, pro-Amnesty, Globalist Republican Party that nominates Juan McLame for President and has the likes of Crybaby Boehner and Mitch McConnell as "leaders".

30 posted on 08/17/2011 8:02:23 AM PDT by Roninf5-1
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To: org.whodat

It has to do with being rational and measuring things against reality rather than fantasy.


31 posted on 08/17/2011 8:05:21 AM PDT by Huck (Read Antifederalist Brutus)
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To: Tempest
Had to be using Juan are gramnesty one, all three are open border pushers.
32 posted on 08/17/2011 8:06:06 AM PDT by org.whodat (What does the Republican party stand for////??? absolutely nothing.)
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To: veritas2002

I used to be a liberal, too. The converts really understand what they have chosen and what they have left behind. This is the first thing I have read about Perry that makes me like him a bit more.


33 posted on 08/17/2011 8:06:49 AM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: nixonsnose
The swing state that had voted for Democrats in four of the previous five presidential elections turned into a deep red one that has chosen Republicans for president eight straight times and does not have a single Democratic statewide elected official.

"Ronald Reagan gets a heck of a lot of credit for that," says James A. Baker III, who ran the rival presidential campaigns of Ford in 1976 and George H.W. Bush in 1980 and later served as Reagan's White House chief of staff and Treasury secretary. "The whole shape and nature of the state changed."

Read more at The Texas Reagan Revolution

Anyone who thinks Texas is still a swing state is not well informed.

34 posted on 08/17/2011 8:07:42 AM PDT by Arrowhead1952 (Dear God, please let it rain in Texas. Amen.)
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To: org.whodat

Let’s also not forget that Gore wanted to run against Mr. country-club RINO was-for-abortion-rights-before-he-was-against-them George “voodoo economics” Bush.


35 posted on 08/17/2011 8:10:52 AM PDT by Lou Budvis ("Socialism...the smiling face of slavery")
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To: ken21
they flipped during comrades hillary and bill’s regime.

Most people in Texas were democrats back in the 70s and 80s. I learned when the peanut farmer [yes, I voted for him because I grew up on a farm] was the POTUS, and what he did to the military. It wasn't good for us.

36 posted on 08/17/2011 8:15:47 AM PDT by Arrowhead1952 (Dear God, please let it rain in Texas. Amen.)
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To: Huck

Fantasy is using that 8 ball thing to determine what Reagan would think are do, but he was for individuality. Which means measuring each person on their own merits. Reagan is no mans yard stick and he would have objected to that based on individuality.


37 posted on 08/17/2011 8:19:33 AM PDT by org.whodat (What does the Republican party stand for////??? absolutely nothing.)
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To: FreeReign

Ooh! Snappy comeback. /rolleyes

Got any FACTS, or just more ignorant parroted lies?


38 posted on 08/17/2011 8:19:45 AM PDT by Sudetenland (There can be no freedom without God--What man gives, man can take away.)
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To: Lady Lucky

Same with me. Right now I’m 50/50 Perry/Bachman leaning Perry only because I think he’s got a better chance. If SP jumped in, I’d support her. If Ryan jumped in, I’d support him over the other 3. He’s the one candidate who will for sure put the clown suit on 0bama during the debates.


39 posted on 08/17/2011 8:23:11 AM PDT by Lou Budvis ("Socialism...the smiling face of slavery")
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To: FreeReign

thank you for taking the time, to actually look up the actual facts in #19.
Sadly, many people here, seem to think name-calling is just as good...


40 posted on 08/17/2011 8:29:43 AM PDT by Elendur (It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Sudetenland; FreeReign; org.whodat; Roninf5-1; Chuzzlewit

Got any FACTS, or just more ignorant parroted lies?
///
he DID post facts, which he took the time to look up, in #19. i’ll assume you missed them accidently.

but i was previously a Perry supporter, and planned to vote for him. (you can look me up. i said many times here, that Perry would be a good president)

what changed my mind, was Perry supporters like YOU.
who do childish and vicious personal attacks, instead of honest discussion.

so then i went and did some research, and found that Perry is pro Amnesty, against the AZ law, pro dream act, campaigned for Gore
(who WAS a flaming liberal, and even if he disguised it somewhat, i expect Perry was smart enough to know that,
if he not just endorsed Gore, but CAMPAIGNED for Al Gore),
pro mandatory vaccination of 6th grade girls for STD
(even over the objections of CONSERVATIVES),
pro-Islam
(an EVANGELICAL quoting from the Quran, that denies Jesus,
and is the reason so many of our troops have been killed?),
and more.

i would like to see some SPECIFIC FACTS, on why anyone actually thinks Perry is conservative!


41 posted on 08/17/2011 8:43:04 AM PDT by Elendur (It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: nixonsnose

There is a lot about Perry that doesn’t qualify as conservative.


42 posted on 08/17/2011 8:46:24 AM PDT by TBP (Obama lies, Granny dies.)
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To: veritas2002

A Perry thread means Reagan being dragged through the mud, Reagan last voted for a Democrat President in 1948, the WWII era.

Perry was wanting to replace President Reagan with an Al Gore Democrat just as Reagan’s administration was on the verge of Cold War victory in 1988.


43 posted on 08/17/2011 8:46:24 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: CA Conservative
A Perry thread means the deification of 1988 Al Gore as the right Democrat who was the man to replace President Reagan and end the Reagan Revolution.
44 posted on 08/17/2011 8:48:38 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: Huck
Reagan voted for FDR all 4 times.

Reagan was not voting against himself in the 1980s and fighting to have Al Gore terminate his Reagan Revolution.

It makes a difference which historical period someone was a Democrat in, 1988 is a heck of a lot different than 1948.

In 1984 Reagan won 64% of the Texas vote, you must have been very confused during the 1980s to keep defending the Democrat opposition to Reagan.

45 posted on 08/17/2011 8:54:00 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: sasquatch
“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

A stupid quote, and not true.

In 1984 when Perry was signing up to become a Democrat leader and the rest of Texas was supporting Reagan, Perry was 34 years old, he was not a kid, in 1988 when he was fighting for Gore he was 38, in 2008 when he was fighting for Giuliani, he was almost 60 years old.

46 posted on 08/17/2011 8:59:39 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
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To: Responsibility2nd; AirplaneDriver

Actually, it should be named The Texas Trial Lawyers Tribune


47 posted on 08/17/2011 9:40:27 AM PDT by ngat
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To: ansel12

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

I agree with your take on that hackneyed quote. If Churchill truly originated it, instead of just repeating it, I would have to say that it proves Churchill was as capable of expressing a shallow idea as well as a sagacious idea.


48 posted on 08/17/2011 10:01:27 AM PDT by ngat
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To: ansel12
A Perry thread means the deification of 1988 Al Gore as the right Democrat who was the man to replace President Reagan and end the Reagan Revolution.

That's just an asinine statement.

49 posted on 08/17/2011 10:11:13 AM PDT by CA Conservative
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To: Clump
Perry isn’t perfect. Let’s kick him to the curb. /sar

Right. Along with all the other imperfect GOP candidates. The reality is that none of them are perfect personally, or on every issue. I find Sarah Palin shallow-thinking and incredibly annoying. Bachmann is starting to sound shrill with the "one-term President" soundbite. Perry used to be a Democrat and there's the Texas DREAM Act abomination. Romney is an unreliable waffler on social issues, and has RomneyCare. Newt is a narcissistic egomaniac, etc. etc. etc..

Okay, it ain't the best pool of candidates we've ever seen. But they're all miles better than the guy currently occupying the Oval Office. There's nothing wrong with healthy intra-party debates, but at some point, we have to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the "a hell of a lot better than the Marxist in the White House."

50 posted on 08/17/2011 10:21:58 AM PDT by Bruce Campbells Chin
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