Aspen plays host to Perry, other GOP governors |

Aspen plays host to Perry, other GOP governors

Lynn Goldsmith Special to The Aspen Times

ASPEN – A possible presidential candidate, a hero of the Tea Party and a top political target of union activists will be among five Republican governors interviewed at the Aspen Institute on Friday.

Govs. Rick Perry of Texas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Susana Martinez of New Mexico will be featured in a conversation with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson.

The interview will be at the Greenwald Pavilion on the Aspen Meadows Campus at 5 p.m. Tickets were close to selling out Wednesday, according to a Institute spokeswoman.

The conversation will occur while the Republican Governors Association (RGA) holds a convention and fundraiser in Aspen. The nonpartisan Aspen Institute has tapped into the summer gathering in recent years to interview some of the rising stars of the GOP. This year’s conversation with the governors is part of the Institute’s McCloskey Speaker Series.

Perry is the chairman of the RGA and touted as a strong Republican presidential contender, should he choose to run. The New York Times reported July 17 that Perry said he would decide on making a presidential bid in two or three weeks. Some media have reported that Perry tracks among the highest Republican candidates in a race with President Obama in some polls, even though Perry isn’t an official candidate.

Perry is credited with creating job in Texas in recent years despite the strained national economy. He has cut government spending and eased a $10 million budget deficit the state ran in 2003.

Perry was also part of the Institute’s conversation with Republican governors last year. He amused an audience of roughly 500 people with his sense of humor by wearing a T-shirt promoting an obscure Texas country band called Marshall Law. His shirt said, “Marshall Law has been declared.”

When the governors were asked last year if they believed human activities are contributing to climate change, Perry replied, “Somebody has to say this – ‘My name is Rick Perry and I am a global-warming skeptic.'”

Perry’s choice of clothes and his answers to questions will likely be under more scrutiny this year as press and public wait for his decision on whether or not to run for president.

Haley was elected as South Carolina’s governor in November 2010 and has made her mark for aggressive budget cutting. She has been a favorite of the Tea Party for her unyielding demands to cut federal government spending and her criticism of Obama.

She has also soured relations with legislators in her state, including some Republicans, by issuing report cards on their performance and for her appetite for attention, according to media reports.

She is figuring into the 2012 president race in a different way than Perry. Her endorsement of a candidate is expected to carry some influence.

Walker took center stage in a top political drama last winter when he championed a bill to severely reduce the collective salary bargaining rights of unions for public employees. Democrats and union activists in Wisconsin are determined to target him in a recall vote.

McDonnell became Virginia’s governor in January 2010 and is regarded as a rising star of the party. He is vice chairman of the RGA.

Martinez also won election in 2010 and became the first Latina woman governor in the United States.

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