Gov. Perry’s book tour ignites presidential speculation

Nolan Hicks

After appearances on Fox News, The Today Show, The Daily Show and CNN’s Sunday morning program, Gov. Rick Perry returned to Texas from his whirlwind book tour last week.

The tour has launched a new wave of speculation that Perry is thinking about running for president in 2012, something the governor has steadfastly denied every time he’s been asked about it.

“I have the best job in America,” Perry said Friday on American Morning News, a conservative radio talk show. “I truly think that governors are where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the action is.”

The Associated Press reported on Saturday that Perry is expected to be named the head of the Republican Governors Association at its meeting in San Diego that begins Monday and lasts until Thursday, which Perry plans to attend. If he accepts the position, it could complicate a presidential run because Perry would have to raise funds for both the RGA and a presidential bid.

While running for re-election, Perry announced plans to raise his national profile by creating a coalition of conservative Republican governors with the aim of campaigning around the country to stop what Perry calls the excesses of Washington, D.C.

“Not long ago, the candidate book tour was rare,” said H. W. Brands, a history and government professor. “Now, it has become almost mandatory.”

President Barack Obama wrote his second book before running for president in 2008. Former President George W. Bush co-wrote a 1999 biography about himself that described his political philosophy before running for president. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also recently released a book and is openly considering a run for the presidency.

Brands said writing a book allows potential candidates to define themselves and their positions and philosophies before being hit by the glaring media spotlight of a national political campaign.

“[Candidate’s books] provide a biography; they show the candidates to be thinkers and writers; they give the media a reason to interview the candidates long before the candidates have to declare themselves,” Brands said.

Perry, for instance, wrote extensively about federal issues in “Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”

There are other political considerations that drive candidates to release books before they declare whether they’re going to run for the presidency, said government professor Daron Shaw.

“There are two purposes to [writing a book]: It keeps you in the public eye and it generates media coverage,” Shaw said. “It helps the candidate gain entry and experience with reporters. It allows you to plug into Washington-based networks that can be useful when you set up an exploratory committee to run for office.”