The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land explains the key differences between George W. Bush and Rick Perry – basically, Perry is Bush without the education, compassion, intellect, or fancy East Coast-upbringing:
[The] “Don’t Mess with Texas” mindset is embraced by both men, but Perry, the Aggie, had neither Bush’s parents nor Yale or Harvard to tone it down.
It is clear to those who know former President George W. Bush that he has great respect and affection for the average man and tremendous appreciation for those who have risen through the meritocracy from humble beginnings. However, as one of those “up from the ranks” individuals, I don’t believe George W. Bush or any such son of privilege can as fully identify with the average family that lives from paycheck to paycheck as Perry can. Bush loves and appreciates them, Perry is them.
Their different backgrounds make them different men. Perry is less subtle. While both are men of genuine faith, Perry (life-long evangelical) is going to be more overtly Christian in his faith statements than the former president, who became a Methodist but was raised by New England Episcopalians. Perry is more conservative than Bush. He would be the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge both fiscally and in foreign policy. He would be less interventionist in the latter and far more frugal than “compassionate” in the former. Perry also has a well-deserved reputation in Texas as being a less-forgiving political opponent than Bush. If you cross Perry, he will get even.
It would be a mistake to underestimate the appeal of this candidate’s conservative populism. Perry has never lost an election and while he would be offended if you called him an intellectual, Perry is far more shrewd than people assume.
So if your problem with George W. Bush was that he just wasn’t “overtly Christian” enough and was too well-educated, well-bred, and compassionate … then Rick Perry is your man.