Rick PerryRick Perry, conservative darling.Photo: Gage SkidmoreA weak field of GOP presidential candidates is weakening the resolve of politicians who’ve been insisting they don’t want to run.

After saying for months that he had no interest in getting into the race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry changed his tune on Friday and told reporters, “I’m going to think about it.”

While he thinks about whether to run, let us think about his record. In his recent book Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Perry writes that global warming is “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.” His response to the drought and wildfires that have been plaguing his state? A proclamation to pray for rain.

Jonathan Hiskes summed up Perry’s record in Grist last fall, when Perry was running for reelection:

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Perry relishes his role as a foe of national climate action. He lambasted the climate bill that passed the House [in 2009] as an “economic disaster.” He is suing the EPA to block it from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. … Perry is “not convinced” climate change is a threat, according to his policy analyst. And he tried to fast-track permits for 11 new coal plants …

Perry called the Gulf of Mexico oil blowout “an act of God,” dismissing claims of BP’s negligence by saying he had “full confidence” in the company’s response. …

But Perry also oversaw one of the more impressive clean-energy success stories of the past decade: the Texas wind industry. The state generates far more wind power than any other — nearly triple the output of Iowa, its closest rival. The state set a renewable energy standard before Perry took office in 2000, met it four years ahead of schedule, and set a more ambitious standard in 2005 — which Perry signed. It reached that goal — 5,880 megawatts of new renewable generation by 2015 — ahead of schedule too, in 2009. …

Solar energy has been slower to take hold in Texas, despite its sunny climate, and Perry has not supported the non-wind renewable standard that solar companies are seeking. “[Perry] was OK with a very modest rebate program, but would not publicly support the renewable standard that worked so well for wind,” said [Jim] Marston [of Environmental Defense Fund].

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Wind boosterism aside, Perry is pretty roundly loathed by enviros.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani is considering a second go at the White House — and even came in at the top of the Republican field in a new CNN poll, with 16 percent. (Check out what Grist had to say about Giuliani’s record during the 2008 race.) Former New York Gov. George Pataki could jump in too.

But of all the pols flirting yet not committing to a run, Sarah Palin is stirring up the most hype. She’s setting off this weekend on a bus tour up the East Coast. Here’s betting she won’t be buying carbon offsets for the trip.


Find out where other Republican presidential hopefuls stand on climate change.