Is Rick Perry the tea party favorite?

Given the job creation numbers in Texas and his frequent criticisms of Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems to be the tea party movement’s favorite presidential candidate; at least at the moment:

The Texas conservative, who’s weighing a late entry into the field of GOP candidates, beats other candidates among members of the Tea Party, the conservative grassroots wing of the Republican Party that’s battling to shape the race for the nomination.

Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist’s April poll; Huckabee’s since withdrawn from the race.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the second choice of the Tea Party, at 17 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) at 16 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 12 percent.

The poll suggests that Perry might be well-positioned to seize the mantle of the Tea Party should he choose to enter the race. Bachmann made a play for those voters during her announcement this week, and could enjoy increased support after heavy media coverage this week.

For the life of me, I can’t see how the tea party movement could ever been behind a serial tax hiker like Mike Huckabee; a guy that raised taxes in Arkansas more than Bill Clinton, supported cap-and-trade, had failing grades on fiscal policy from the Cato Institute and backed increased federal spending for social programs. Given how the movement has become populist more than policy-based, I guess I’m not surprised; but still.

Back to Perry. There have been concerns expressed that he could be another George W. Bush, the last Texas Governor to run for president. Perry seems to get it mostly right on the economy, more so than other Republicans running. I’m not saying I’d vote for him, but I suppose the tea party movement could chose worse.

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