Rick Perry Has to Choose: White House or Hair?

The Texas governor is being cagey about his candidacy. Presidents, he notes, go grey

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry will decide whether he's running for president "in the next several weeks," The Hill's Michael O'Brien reports. What will his decision be? Judging by Perry's actions in recent weeks, it looks like he's leaning toward getting in the race. On the other hand, Perry is reportedly worried about one admittedly critical factor: What a presidential campaign might do to his hair.

In explaining Perry's complicated relationship with George W. Bush--under whom he served as Texas' lieutenant governor--The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny note a staffer who served under both men keeps photos of the two in his office. "Those of Mr. Bush--fresh-faced with brown hair--are a stark reminder of how the campaign and the job of president can age a person," they write. "That is among the factors said to be weighing on Mr. Perry, who is 61." The Times does not remind readers that in Texas, Perry is famous for his hair. (His hair has not one but two Twitter handles; he was nicknamed "Governor Goodhair" by the late Molly Ivins; the tenth suggested Google image search for the governor is "Rick Perry hair.")

But there are signs that his grooming concerns aren't weighing too heavily. For example: Perry has been distancing himself from Bush, seen as a Republican who strayed too far from his party's fiscally conservative ideals, since at least 2007. He's rejected Bush's more liberal views on immigration, and in April, he bashed "No Child Left Behind."

Perry is also courting evangelicals. Time's Amy Sullivan reports that early last month, Perry had a conference call with prominent evangelical leaders--including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, John Hagee, and David Barton--in which the leaders said they'd support Perry if he got into the race. He's also hosting a massive prayer summit August 6 to focus religious energy on the nation's problems.

Finally, he's raising huge amounts of money. Since he took over as head of the Republican Governors' Association, the group has raised $22 million, Politico's Alexander Burns reports. That's a huge sum for a non-election year--more than the RGA raised in all of 2007, and $10 million more than it raised in the first half of 2009.

So Perry has the fundraising ability, the Christian Right support, and the fiscal conservatism to be a strong candidate in 2012. Now all he has to decide is whether it's worth the risk to his hairline.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.