Why Embracing Pot Won't Help Rick Perry Win The White House

Nobody really knows what Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) plans to do once he leaves the governor's mansion next year. After decades working for the state of Texas, he's a millionaire — so he could retire, or sit on corporate boards, or take up painting. But because of his recent visits toIowa and South Carolina, not to mention Israel and Britain, his new political action committee, some Washington-bashing TV ads, even his fashionable new eyewear, many people expect he isgearing up for another run at the White House.

Don't laugh.

His ill-fated 2012 run is most remembered for one loopy, cringe-worthy November 2011 debate performance — the one where Perry forgot one of the three federal departments he was proposing to eliminate ("oops"). But when he bounded into the GOP primaries in August 2011, there was a reason he was the great conservative hope, the expected mainstream GOP alternative to Mitt Romney.

Unlike much of the country, Texas was doing pretty well economically, apparently validating the GOP's low-tax, low-service model of governance. And unlike Romney, Perry was cool with the Tea Party faction. If he'd entered the race a little sooner, and not been on painkillers during one crucial debate, it's not outlandish to imagine he would have been the Republican nominee. "The press over-bought Perry in 2012 and I think they are underselling now," Romney strategist Stuart Stevens told TIME in July 2013.

Maybe Perry's talk of easing up on the war on pot will appeal to the younger, libertarian-leaning Republicans who formed the backbone of the Ron Paul Revolution — but they already have a candidate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Perry is hardly libertarian on social issues. As GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says at U.S. News, "the growing 'conser-tarian' movement... will find much to like, although some to dislike, in Perry's agenda."

Read more from Peter Weber at The Week

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