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Editor’s note: After doubts were raised about Rick Perry’s role in Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign, we looked afresh into the matter, concluding in September 2011 that Perry was not Gore’s Texas campaign chairman. This research has prompted us to revise downward our rating of Paul’s claim to Half True.
Interviews and news articles confirm that Perry was among 28 Democratic legislators who endorsed Gore for president in January 1988. But there’s no proof he led or ran Gore’s campaign in Texas. It appears that a Democratic opponent slapped various Gore campaign leadership labels on Perry in a 1998 election year and, partly because Perry did not dispute them, the descriptives stuck.
For archival purposes, though, the article below retains the text of our original Paul fact check, which was published Aug. 15, 2011.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul told a gathering in Iowa the other day that he wasn’t worried about his chances if fellow Texan. Rick Perry joined the Republican presidential race.
As caught on video by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Paul said Aug. 10 in Mason City that Perry’s candidacy "probably will help us, because he’ll just further dilute the establishment vote. He’s part of the status quo." Paul also said Perry’s gubernatorial record doesn’t show him to be a conservative. He added that Perry "actually was the chairman for Al Gore at one time, not too many years ago."
Gov. Perry for Gore, the former Democratic vice president, not so long ago?
Indeed, as we noted in a 2010 fact check, when Perry was still a Democrat, he was the Texas state chairman for Gore's presidential campaign in 1988, the year before he switched parties in anticipation of running for state agriculture commissioner in 1990.
What brought Perry to pitch in for Gore, whose candidacy washed out after the Tennessee senator failed to do well outside his native South? At the time, many conservative Texas Democrats put stock in Gore’s campaign, among them former Gov. Dolph Briscoe and then-House Speaker Gib Lewis, who flew to Washington to endorse Gore.
Later, Perry said he found out Gore was far from a real conservative. "Going through that (Gore experience) was part of what started me through the process of changing parties," Perry said. "I came to my senses."
In the Texas primary, Gore ran third to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
In late 2009, Perry revisited his disagreement with Gore over the human impact on global warming. Suggesting he'd seen the light on the climate issue while Gore had drifted into darker territory, Perry joked: "I certainly got religion. I think he's gone to hell."
Don’t count on the two to be joined in a cause again.
Per Paul’s comment, Ryan J. Rusak of The Dallas Morning News wondered in an Aug. 11 blog post if it’s fair to say Perry was Gore’s chairman "not too many years ago." Rusak wrote: "Is 23 years really ‘not too many years ago?’ When you're about to celebrate (your) 76th birthday, as Dr. Paul is next week, I suppose not. But in politics, it's a lifetime, no?"
It was more than two decades ago. For that reason, we rate Paul’s statement Mostly True.
This rating was changed to Half True on Sept. 7, 2011.
Austin American-Statesman, "Briscoe, Hay backing Al Gore," p. A-1, Jan. 13, 1988
Austin American-Statesman, "Texas' Governor In Waiting," Dec. 14, 2000
Dallas Morning News, "Bush factor helping Perry, pollster says," Sept. 15, 1998
Dallas Morning News, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes jab at ex-ally Al Gore on climate change," Dec. 17, 2009
PolitiFact Texas, fact check, "Debra Medina claims Rick Perry was a Democrat and Al Gore's campaign manager," Jan. 16, 2010
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