Rick Perry is a Texan who boasts about how he shot a coyote during a morning jog. Rudy Giuliani is a New Yorker who has appeared before crowds in full drag as “Rudia.”
When it comes to political “bromances,” Perry and Giuliani rank high on the list of odd couples. Perry’s endorsement of Giuliani’s 2008 presidential run came as shock to many in the GOP, who wondered why such a robust social conservative was the first (and ultimately, only) Republican governor to endorse a candidate who is openly pro-abortion and favors gay rights. But that endorsement was no one-time incident, nor a flash in the pan. For over a decade, Perry and Giuliani have supported one another through a series of races, with endorsements, public statements, and fundraising assistance. Different they may be, but they are nothing if not committed.
As far back as 1999, Perry served as the honorary Texas chairman of Giuliani’s New York senatorial campaign. (The Texans for Giuliani invitation to a $1,000 per plate luncheon that Perry hosted employed this message: “We Texans need to ask ourselves how helpful do we think Hillary Rodham Clinton would be to the Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush if he were to become president?”) In both 2002 and 2006, Giuliani returned the favor, endorsing Perry’s gubernatorial runs. In the 2006 race — a difficult one for Perry, who would ultimately eke out a win with 39 percent of the vote, just enough to catapult him over the other candidates in the four-person race — Giuliani’s endorsement was well-utilized and undoubtedly useful. In addition to a radio spot featuring America’s mayor, the Perry campaign sent out a fundraising letter touting Giuliani’s endorsement of Perry as a “strong and determined leader.”
In 2005, Giuliani joined Texas law firm Bracewell & Patterson (re-named Bracewell & Giuliani), strengthening his ties to the Lone Star State — and to affluent Texas Republicans ripe for fundraising appeals. Two years later, he sought out Perry’s endorsement for his 2008 presidential run. He got it.
A Perry aide paraphrased how Perry explained his support for Giuliani this way: “We don’t agree on social issues, but Mayor Giuliani provided leadership during a time of crisis for the country.” To Perry, Giuliani was a figure who had stellar national-security credentials, a key issue for him.
After citing the importance of the War on Terror, Perry publicly explained his Giuliani endorsement by pointing to the former mayor of New York’s track record: “What I look for is results, and Rudy Giuliani is the individual who will give us the results that will make America safer, that will move our economy forward, that will put strict constructionists on the Supreme Court, that covers a host of issues that are important to me and I think a lot of my colleagues and Americans as well,” he enthusiastically told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade in fall, 2007.
In that interview, Perry brushed off the ideological differences between the two men. He noted that he and Giuliani had discussed some of the issues that divided them, and spent an “inordinate amount of time together over the course of the last six weeks talking about issues both on the phone and face to face.” Those discussion satisfied Perry. According to the Dallas Morning News, Perry told reporters that Giuliani had “assured [Perry] that in nominating Supreme Court justices and on other important issues, a Giuliani administration would serve the conservative cause.”
Perry’s pre-emptive attempt to acknowledge that — and explain why — he had endorsed a candidate whose views on social issues differed so markedly from his own did not soften the surprise. In the aftermath of the announcement, much of the media coverage centered on speculation that Perry was aiming at the second slot on the ticket. Perry shot that down forcefully, saying bluntly he wouldn’t consider the vice presidency, but rumors abounded nonetheless. The Dallas Morning News reported that the Perry political camp saw little choice other than Giuliani since “Mr. Thompson’s campaign has sputtered and Sen. John McCain of Arizona is a long-shot.” (The relationship between Romney and Perry, if not outright hostile, had been at least complicated since an incident at the 2002 Olympics where the Boy Scouts were not allowed to participate, something for which Perry criticized Romney.) But the disbelief persisted: In comparison to Perry, “Giuliani comes across like Michael Moore,” wrote Austin American-Statesman columnist John Kelso, comparing the duo to “Dick Cheney touring with the Dixie Chicks.”