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Waiting for the Texas Chief

By Ruben Navarrette - June 15, 2011

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Some people think Perry is just trying to keep his name out there to build his brand so that when he steps down after what many expect to be his final term, he'll have more opportunities in the private sector. Others are skeptical that Perry could -- from his perch in Austin -- pull together the national organization to compete with Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann and the others.

Personally, I hope Perry gets in. He could bring a lot to this contest. If Sarah Palin doesn't run, and it turns out her bus tour was nothing more than another gimmick to grab attention, then there will be a need for a Republican candidate that everyday Americans can relate to. That's Perry.

He has positives and negatives, but so do the others. On the positive side, he's affable, charming and a great campaigner. On the negative, he can be intensely unlikable, especially in a debate, and even supporters sometimes doubt his authenticity and veracity.

If you thought Mitt Romney or John Kerry did Olympic-quality flip-flops, wait until you get a look at Rick Perry.

One version of him used federal stimulus money to prop up the Texas economy; the other threatened secession. One insisted, when pressed during his last re-election campaign, that he would not run for president; the other appears to be gearing up to do just that. One signed a law that granted in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants; the other -- perhaps with an eye toward running for president -- declared so-called "sanctuary cities" an emergency item to be taken up by the state Legislature.

So, in Perry's ideal world, local and state police should help immigration officials enforce federal law and remove illegal immigrants. But any of the undocumented who are somehow overlooked can stick around, buy a backpack, and go to college at a reduced rate?

It would be worth sitting through a campaign just to hear an explanation.

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ruben@rubennavarrette.com

Copyright 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

Ruben Navarrette

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