Ted Oberg: Don’t Expect Rick Perry to ‘Dial Down’ the Rhetoric

Aug 19, 2011 1:48pm

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:   Ted Oberg, a reporter for ABC Houston affiliate KTRK, knows a thing or two about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s affinity for colorful language.  

After concluding an interview with the governor six years ago, Oberg was the recipient of a now-famous Perry gaffe: “Adios, mo fo,” he said.  

Now as Perry takes his folksy, shoot-from-the-hip approach to politics out of Texas and on the road, it’s unclear how it will play with voters along the way. Oberg, who’s been following the governor for years, told “Top Line,” don’t expect him to tone it down anytime soon.

 “He is a hard-charging guy, he has trusted his instincts through all of his campaigns this year, and his instincts have always served him well,” Oberg said. “I don’t think you’ll hear Rick Perry all of a sudden become shy or quiet or dial down the way that he says things. I don’t think that you’ll see the campaign and him try and reign it in a little bit. Say it just as loud, but maybe not as headline attracting.”

Perry’s recent zingers – including calling Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke “almost treasonous” – have certainly grabbed the headlines over the past few days. His record on jobs and social issues in the state of Texas are starting to receive scrutiny as well. 

Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an interview Thursday that he “feels very, very badly” for kids in Texas public schools because of how they’ve been managed by Gov. Perry over the past ten years. 

“Schools are going to be an issue,” Oberg said. “One jobs expert we talked to said, you know, that could be the Achilles’ heel. You know, not necessarily in 2012, but maybe in 2022 when all of a sudden, Texas’ educated workforce doesn’t emerge from the schools that we have today.”

For now, the Perry campaign is celebrating the recognition its college and career-ready curriculum has received from national education groups, and touting the governor’s record on growing jobs and the state economy.  

Oberg said it may be hard to challenge Perry on the latter, even in spite of new monthly employment figures out today that show an uptick in Texas’ unemployment rate.  

“Anytime unemployment goes up is bad for a guy who’s running on his jobs record,” Oberg said of the latest 8.4 percent figure (up from 8.2 percent last month.) “But when you dig a little bit deeper, much of the job losses in Texas come from government jobs.”

“I’m not certain that shrinking the size of government is going to hurt Rick Perry in a primary,” he said. 

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