BURLINGTON, Iowa - Throughout the holiday season, Rick Perry has traveled across Iowa, shaking hands with voters and selling his economic and social credentials to Iowans. But the Texas governor is just like any dad and husband ready to get home for the Christmas holidays.
While riding aboard the press bus to his first stop this morning, standing beneath strands of multi-colored lights, the press corps strung along the interior of the bus, Perry shared what a typical Christmas morning looks like in his household. Like many dads, Perry grabs a video camera to record the family's experience together, even waking his now grown children - Griffin, 28, and Sydney, 25 - from their slumber to open presents on Christmas morning.
"Here's what they hate because I take my video camera out, and I video them in bed and you know, they're like pulling the cover over their head, and they're like 'Come on dad. You know like we're grown, would you cut it out?'" Perry said laughing. "Now they're 28 and 25, and last year at 27 and 24, there were pictures of them, you know, getting up and walking in and the Christmas tree and opening the presents and the wiener dog and the black lab we'd, you know, tie bows around them."
"That is our typical Christmas. You know, it's kind of like, 'Dad you are so lame,'" Perry said. "I think they would be disappointed if I didn't do it, so we have fun."
Perry said his daughter is normally showered with "Christmas presents year around," and his wife, Anita, is never surprised by her gift Christmas morning.
"Actually, my wife and I have a deal. She picks her Christmas present and I pay for it," Perry said. "It's a nice bag. I haven't seen it yet."
But Perry admitted his present from his wife is always a secret.
"When I'd come in earlier in the season, I couldn't open any of the mail that came in because I think this year has been pretty much shopping by mail," Perry said.
The Perry family will attend a Saturday Christmas Eve service at Lake Hills Church in Austin. Their typical Christmas meal consists of a turkey, likely from Tyler, Texas, this year, and dressing, a recipe belonging to his wife's grandmother, along with some candied yams. Perry described his favorite dessert as a "black cherry jello with kind of a cream cheese, sweet cream cheese topping … with some sweet stuff on top."
Perry, his wife and two children are fans of country singer Clay Walker and listen to his Christmas album during the holidays, and the Texas governor said his favorite Christmas movie always changes, but for now, it's the holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life."
Perry often talks about his humble upbringing in the small community of Paint Creek, Texas, and his favorite Christmas memory as a child mirrored that modest childhood he describes during many of his campaign stops.
"What I remember most about Christmas was going to my grandmother and grandfather's house, and they lived even farther out of the country than we did. They were about 20 miles away from town, and he always left like a dollar bill on the tree for each of the grandchildren, and a dollar in 1955 was like pretty serious amount of money for me," Perry said. "That is what I remember, was getting a dollar from my granddad. I'm not sure that relates much anymore, but a dollar in 1955, '56, it was quite something. And eating at grandmother's house. They were great cooks. I mean they were great cooks.
And asked if he has any New Year's resolutions for 2012, Perry said he's been so busy campaigning, he hasn't had time to decide what he'd like to work on in the next year.
"I hadn't had time to even think about New Year's yet," Perry said. "On the 27th, when I see you, check back with me."