Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, Thursday, June 23, 2011.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, Thursday, June 23, 2011. Darren Abate/AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry wasn't exactly appearing before a simpatico audience to start with when he showed up to talk to the San Antonio meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
After all, he has supported new legislation mandating photo ID to vote and that would require law enforcement officers in sanctuary cities to do immigration checks during police stops.
But is sounds like he didn't help himself with a joke he made during his appearance. As Chris Tomlinson of the Associated Press reports:
... A joke about how perfect it was to appoint Jose Cuevas to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission because his name sounds like Jose Cuervo, a brand of tequila, fell flat. Perry struggled to regain his confidence as he described Texas as a land of opportunity.
Tomlinson reports that as Perry gave his standard Texas booster speech, about how great the economy there is etc., the audience gave Perry something less than the sort of rousing response he's accustomed to get at Republican events.
The politicians and public policy professionals were unimpressed with his stock-speech touting the state's business-friendly climate. Perry often stopped for applause and heard only the clink of forks on plates as he stared out at the crowd, a stark contrast to the jubilant reception he's received at recent Republican events. Many in the audience had never heard of him before.
Perry is considering a run for the 2012 Republican presidential election. But his appearance before NALEO is sure to raise questions about whether he is ready for prime time.
And if some of the calculus of Perry and his supporters is that his Texas ties might give him an advantage with Hispanic voters over other Republican candidates, a la George W. Bush, his performance and the audience response might prompt some rethinking of that.