Over the past three weeks, one Republican has gained more national attention than any other: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).
He has been everywhere - calling up the Texas National Guard, appearing on network interviews, headlining Sunday shows, touring the southern border with Fox News' Sean Hannity, appearing on The Blaze with Glenn Beck. Perry has penned national op-eds on border security in The Wall Street Journal and The USA Today.
Gov. Perry greeted President Obama on the tarmac, met with him in Dallas, and spent the next day on the southern border--a marked contrast with President Obama who spent the day at fundraisers and excoriating Republicans at a partisan speech in downtown Austin.
How did Gov. Perry fully seize this opportunity?
It began on July 3 when House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) held a field hearing on the border in McAllen, with Gov. Perry providing witness testimony which dominated the hearing.
When it comes to border security, Gov. Perry knows what he is talking about, after serving as Governor of Texas longer than FDR was president.
In fact, several months ago, the state of Texas began a $1.3 million per week border security surge through the rest of 2014. According to Gov. Perry, the state has spent over $500 million since 2005 on increased border protection and efforts to fight gangs and drug cartels.
Perry has surged by making three smart demands.
First, he cleverly pressured President Obama into a meeting with him while he was in Texas, by refusing to accept a perfunctory and patronizing White House offer of a 30-second handshake at the airport. Perry refused, asking instead for a "thoughtful policy discussion." The White House caved and reluctantly agreed to the meeting.
Second, he asked President Obama to visit the border while he was in Texas. The White House stubbornly refused and that question dominated the national media discussion that entire week. Even Democrats like Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) went public, criticizing President Obama for not visiting the border. The result was the White House being on defense all week.
To put as fine a point on it as possible, Gov. Perry spent the day after his meeting with Obama on the border, receiving a briefing from border patrol officials and touring the border by boat and helicopter, with Fox News and radio host Sean Hannity in tow. The effect was a split screen comparison between Perry, on the border, seeing it firsthand, acting as an executive, and Obama, engaging in a partisan attack in a speech on the economy and conducting photo ops at a coffee shop and a barbecue restaurant in Austin.