The Sebastian County Republican Committee announced Tuesday (Mar. 13) that former GOP Presidential candidate frontrunner and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will speak at their Lincoln Day dinner — an announcement that came the same day rumors began to more broadly circulate about a possible Gingrich-Perry ticket.
The Lincoln Day Dinner is set for 6:45 p.m., April 14 at the Holiday Inn City Center in downtown Fort Smith. The event is open to the public and the press. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase by contacting Jonelle Fulmer, 484-4401, or by emailing her at [email protected]
Sebastian County Republican Committee Chairman Rex Terry said Perry has been a favorite of many in the county group, including himself.
“Rick Perry was always one of my early top choices. I endorsed Rick Perry for president before he announced, and began working as long ago as last summer trying to get him to come to Fort Smith,” Terry told The City Wire.
Perry, 61, with more than 11 years in the Texas Governor’s office, is the longest continuously serving governor in the U.S. Perry was elected Texas’ Lt. Gov. in 1998 and assumed the office when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected U.S. President in the 2000 election.
Perry announced Aug. 13, 2011 he would run for the White House. His early poll numbers had many media pundits saying he would secure the nomination. But his relatively late campaign start combined with weak debate performances pushed down his poll numbers. On Jan. 19, Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Gingrich.
“We are delighted that Governor Perry chose to respond favorably to our invitation to address our event. This is an important election year, and Governor Perry will provide great inspiration and a challenge to our candidates,” Terry said in a statement.
Fox News, Digital Journal and other news sources are saying the Newt Gingrich — the former U.S. Speaker who trails campaign opponents Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum — are admitting to conversations about a Gingrich-Perry ticket being announced before the Republican National Convention set for August.
Political watchers and staffers with the Romney and Santorum campaigns have suggested the idea of a Gingrich-Perry ticket was leaked prior to today’s (Mar. 13) GOP primaries in Alabama and Mississippi as a ploy to capture conservative votes in the important primary battles.
Perry’s office somewhat discounted the rumor.
"Gov. Perry thinks Newt Gingrich is the strongest conservative to debate and defeat President Obama and truly overhaul Washington. The speculation is humbling but premature,” noted a statement from Perry’s office.