AUSTIN — A strong majority of Texans believe that long-standing factors other than Gov. Perry's leadership have contributed to the state's robust economy, and about a third say that Perry's presidential campaign is hurting the state's image, according to a new poll.
Perry repeatedly cites his stewardship over the robust Texas economy as a fundamental selling point in presidential bid. But the poll, by the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, found that 65 percent of those surveyed credited Texas' economic success to long-standing advantages such as natural resources, a constitutionally mandated balanced budget and the absence of a state income tax.
Twenty-one percent said Perry's leadership helped Texas fare better than the rest of the country, citing his adherence to lower taxes, lenient regulation and small government.
The survey also found that Texans are divided over whether Perry's first national campaign is having an effect on Texas' image outside the state. Thirty-seven percent say it has hurt the state's image, 34 percent say it has had no effect, and 19 percent say it has helped the state's image. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
Perry got national attention this week with an animated speech in New Hampshire that was partly replayed in Internet videos, prompting some pundits to wonder whether he had been drinking or was experiencing side effects of medications. Perry's campaign said he was "being passionate."
Perry, the state's longest-serving governor, has made the Texas economy a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, citing his nearly 11 years of leadership for helping Texas lead the nation in job creation and more easily weather the nation's economic downturn.
In new ads running in Iowa, Perry, who has been criticized for his debate performances, touts himself as "doer, not a talker" and tells viewers, "In Texas, we created 40 percent of the new jobs in the entire country since June of 2009, and we cut a record $15 billion from our state budget."
Perry has also promised to create at least 2.5 million jobs nationally if he becomes president.
At a CNN debate in Florida, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of Perry's main rivals, suggested that Perry largely inherited many ingredients that contributed to the state's economic growth, including Texas' oil wealth, its lack of an income tax, conservative labor laws and a Republican-dominated Legislature that promotes a business-friendly regulatory climate.
"If you're dealt four aces, that doesn't make you, necessarily, a great poker player," Romney said.
The ad campaign in Iowa, which holds the nation's first caucuses Jan. 3, is part of Perry's efforts to turn around his candidacy after a plunge in the polls.
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