As Rick Perry returns to Iowa, Sam Clovis opines on Trump’s `patriotic altruism’

Good morning Austin:

The way I figure it, sometime about a year ago, Rick Perry went to a fortune-teller in Austin and said, “Oh swami, I want to run for president again, but last time it didn’t work out so well. Can you peer into the future and tell me what you see?:

To which the psychic replied, “Please don’t call me swami. But, looking into my crystal ball, I see you, amid the snow and bitter cold of Iowa next January, days before the caucus, the eyes of the nation upon you, appearing in a single day before adoring crowds  in Osceola, Albia, Centerville, Bloomfield, Ottumwa, Fairfield and Koesauqua.”

And so that will come to pass, only the former Texas governor will be in all those places today, and a few more tomorrow, to campaign not for himself but for his fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz.

The governor endorsed Cruz in a video yesterday.

Here’s the text:

Howdy, I’m Rick Perry.

2016 is a critical election and I’m here to stress to you how important it is for conservatives to rally together and support a consistent conservative candidate who will take on Washington and who can defeat the Democrat nominee.  

That is why I support Ted Cruz for President. 

As an Air Force Veteran, I understand the sacrifices that our men and women in the military make every day to keep us safe.  

They deserve a commander-in-chief who values their service, who will keep our military strong, and who will always put America’s national security interests first.

He has proven that he is ready to serve as Commander-in-Chief on Day One.

He has also proven the willingness to take on the Washington Cartel and restore power and opportunity back to the people.

He has proven that he will do what is necessary to secure our borders, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and to ensure our brave veterans receive the care they have earned.

Ted is the leader that we need to reignite the promise of America.

This is why I am supporting Ted Cruz and asking Iowa Republicans to Caucus for Cruz next Monday, February 1st!

Not bad, though, I’m not sure I would have had him use the Cruz coinage Washington cartel.

From the Washington Post:

Cruz, a former college debater, is known to take great pride in his oratory, and it’s clear that he enjoys landing on phrases that make newspaper headlines and Twitter hashtags. But in contrast to “Make D.C. listen,” a rallying cry so entwined in the shutdown battle that it later became the name of a pro-Cruz PAC, the phrase “Washington cartel” can stick out awkwardly on the debate stage and on the stump.

Like “promptly opined,” from Cruz’s stump speech – and super PAC ad:

You know, when we launched our campaign, the New York Times promptly opined, ‘Cruz cannot win, because the Washington elites despise him’. I kinda thought that was the whole point of the campaign. If you think things are going great in Washington, and we need to keep going in the same direction and maybe just fiddle around the edges, then I ain’t your guy.

Somehow “promptly opined,” and “ain’t your guy,” don’t quite parse.

And, if we were to substitute Austin cartel for Washington cartel, well, Perry kind of personified the cartel. The Ted Cruz of Austin is Jonathan Stickland, albeit without the Ivy League pedigree and $500 words, and Perry has endorsed Stickland’s primary opponent.

Stickland is more fifty cent words. Like Donald Trump.


I talked to Jamie Johnson yesterday, as good a participant-observer in Iowa politics as anyone, who was alongside Rick Santorum every step of the way in his out-of-nowhere win in the 2012 caucuses, and was the senior director of Perry’s short-lived campaign last-year.


Johnson is not backing a candidate, post-Perry, but he sees Trump surging toward a big victory Monday, and says a lot of it has to do with the brilliant, positive simplicity of his four-word slogan.

I quoted Johnson in today’s story.

“The author of ‘The Art of the Deal’ is closing the deal,” said Johnson,

Which brings us to Sam Clovis.


From a First Reading at the end of August:

On Monday, Sam Clovis announced he was no longer chairman of Rick Perry’s presidential campaign in Iowa.

Wow. That was fast.

On Tuesday, he introduced Donald Trump at his big rally in Dubuque. He was now national co-chairman of the Trump campaign and senior policy adviser.

One day, Clovis is saying that he would fly “through the gates of hell,” for Perry, and the next he is forsaking him to join the campaign of the man who Perry has called a “cancer on conservatism.”

How terrible. How treacherous.


Not really.

First a little background.

Clovis’ politics make him, ideologically, something like the Ted Cruz of Iowa – the true blue conservative standard – only a big bear of a guy with a big laugh and altogether more cuddly and huggable than our Ted.

Here is an ad that Iowa Democrats put out when he was running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014. (He lost to Jodi Ernst, who is now in the Senate.)

From the ad


Clovis: I would align myself with Sen. Ted Cruz, but maybe after a few months Sen. Cruz would want to be like Sam Clovis.


So, why Trump, Clovis was asked at the Trump press conference.

I’m excited about the opportunity to change the status quo in America and that’s why I’m here.

I spoke with Clovis yesterday by phone. He had been waylaid by the snowstorm in Washington, D.C. but had made his way to New York City by train and was heading back to Iowa for two big Trump rallies today.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 6.37.57 PM

Clovis is a big man with a big, infectious laugh, and it is plain that he has no regrets about signing on with Trump.

Clovis dismissed the “Against Trump” issue of the National Review  issue devoted to making the case, as Rick Perry did back in a July 22 speech, that Trumpism is a “cancer on conservatism.”

Clovis said he canceled his subscription to National Review months ago “totally independent of Mr. Trump.”

“Talk about somebody who’s lost their way. I couldn’t take it any more … They are as much a part of the establishment as the establishment is … They are more establishment than the establishment … Bill Buckley would be spinning in his grave.”

Of Trump’s shifting politics, from left to right.

What we have seen is a classic case of someone who has evolved in their views and positions.

As a young man, Clovis said, Trump “may have not been paying close attention to politics.” He was immersed in his business.

As people get older and raise children and then have grandchildren their view the world changes, they take stock of where they are and what’s happening in  their lives,and take sock stock of what’s being handed to the next generation..

That’s what happened with Trump, Clovis said, and Trump has, “the courage to do something about it.”

That’s one of the reasons he’s stepped up. There is a sense of altruism in this race that I don’t think a lot of people appreciate. This man is a true patriot. This is a man who truly, deeply loves this country.

He sees what this country is going through and that’s the country his grandchildren will inherit

I think where a lot of conservatives have trouble with Trump_ is he is not one of them. He is not one of the Beltway Conservatives. He is not one  of them and that bothers them a great deal and they really don’t know how to brand him, don’t know how to look at him and the populism that is there.

Talking to a lot of people about this across the country, this populist approach that we’re taking is one that is connecting with the American people across every possible sphere of the voting population. It is that part that the establishment or the National Review conservatives have the most trouble accepting because they don’t have a clue what’s going on in this country.

I don’t know how anybody who has been out with the people can miss it.

Of Trump, Clovis said, “He has reached deep within the soul of the American people.”

Of those who claim that Trump will under-perform in the caucuses because his fans, many of whom have never participated before, are unlikely to turn out, Clovis says:

They’re going to stand in line in subzero – not subfreezing but in subzero temperatures — for five hours to get into a gymnasium to wait two more hours to hear people talk for another hour and a half, you’re going to tell me they are not going to come out to caucus? I think we are going to have such a huge night it will be historic.

I’ve been watching politics since I was 7 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not your father’s campaign, and I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re changing politics in America, and I think that’s something we’ve needed for a long time.

After Perry’s bid fizzled, Clovis said, “I had seen the last straw with a classic politician. I just felt like Mr. Trump was different. I felt that if we went with another traditional politician, we weren’t going to see anything change, and I honestly don’t think we will, if anyone other than Donald Trump wins.”

Clovis dismisses the idea that Trump should be more specific. He said Cruz put out a 17-page tax plan and he hasn’t found anyone who knows what’s in it. He says a lot of the other candidate’s issue foreign policy threats that are premature and ill-advised.

“We’re going to defend the national interest,” he said, but with a “more deliberative approach.”

Of Cruz’s criticism that Trump’s readiness to make deals means he will forsake conservative principles as president, Clovis said, “God love him, Sen. Cruz is a good guy, but'”with how his Senate colleagues perceive him, I think it would be difficult for him to get anything done. I think Mr. Trump is a very tough negotiator.”

Trump’s deal-making will be about giving in but about getting things done.

(Trump struck this theme relentlessly on Morning Joe this morning. Of Cruz, “I don’t think anybody likes him … he’s a whack job … Ted’s a nasty guy … he won’t get anything done … he’s a more strident loner than Obama.” Trump even boasted of his good relationship with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, not a usual Republican talking point.)

I asked Clovis if there are a lot of people who don’t talk to him any more since he went with Trump.

Some, he said, but there are others who talk to him now who didn’t used to.

“It’s zero sum,” said Clovis, an economics professor at Morningside College.

But Clovis said, “I don’t have to keep score. Here’s the thing. I’m too old to care anymore. Either they get me or they don’t get me.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 6.36.09 PM
















I would align myself with Sen. Ted Cruz, but maybe after a few months, Ted Cruz would want to be like Sam Clovis,


Author: Jonathan Tilove

Jonathan Tilove is the Statesman's chief political writer. He was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2008 to 2012. Before that he covered race and immigration issues for Newhouse News Service for 18 years.

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