Rick Perry: From joke candidate to Donald Trump’s first martyr
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has seldom found a kind word for Rick Perry. In 2011, when Perry ran disastrously for president against Paul's father, the senator happily derided the Texas governor's gaffes. He kept up the mockery for years, campaigned in Texas for candidates not backed by Perry, and got into a 2014 editorial tete-a-tete with Perry about foreign policy.
The first recorded instance of Paul speaking warmly of Perry came Saturday, after the badly trailing and underfunded candidate finally dropped out of the presidential race. Paul shared his disappointment with reporters, then with Twitter:
It's easy (and popular) to praise a rival after he's trudged away in defeat. But the strange new respect for Perry has gone further. Perry, a national laughingstock after the 2012 campaign, has been transformed into a symbol of the debate the Republican Party is being robbed from having. Just as former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty became the mascot for people who wanted to end the Iowa Straw Poll, critics of Donald Trump are waving battered Perry 2016 bumper stickers.