Rick Perry said pegged as Trump’s energy secretary
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Rick Perry said pegged as Trump’s energy secretary

Appointment set to raise eyebrows due to past pledge to close agency and description of new boss as ‘cancer on conservatism’

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting, April 25, 2015. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP)
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting, April 25, 2015. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP)

US President Elect Donald Trump has chosen Rick Perry — former governor of oil-rich Texas and one of the contenders Trump crushed in the Republican primary — as his energy secretary, according to sources in his transition team quoted by CBS News.

Perry sealed the deal with Trump during a meeting Monday at the transition headquarters in Trump Tower in New York, according to the report.

If confirmed, the appointment is likely to raise eyebrows, with many recalling an embarrassing moment during the 2011 Republican primary when Perry struggled to remember the third government agency he pledged to eliminate.

Perry said that when he became president “there’ll be three agencies I’ll end: commerce, education…” The moderator asked if he could name the third agency. “No,” said Perry. “Oops.”

That agency was the Department of Energy.

During the most recent election campaign, Perry all but declared war on Trump, calling the billionaire businessman “a cancer on conservatism” who could destroy the Republican Party.

When he eventually pulled out of the race in September 2015, Trump said he had deserved the weak polling numbers that led to his demise, telling reporters, “He had been very nasty to me.”

After Trump gained the nomination, operatives floated Perry as a possible candidate for a third-party or independent bid against the now-president elect. Perry was approached by “a mixture of people” about being part of a third-party bid, according to Jeff Miller, who managed Perry’s failed GOP presidential campaign. But Miller said Perry found the idea “ludicrous.”

Perry launched his first presidential campaign four years ago as an instant frontrunner — a proven job-creator with solid conservative credentials, formidable fundraising prowess and perhaps enough cowboy swagger to take Republicans by storm. Then came the “Oops” moment.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives at Trump Tower on another day of meetings scheduled for President-elect Donald Trump on November 21, 2016 in New York. AFP/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives at Trump Tower on another day of meetings scheduled for President-elect Donald Trump on November 21, 2016 in New York. AFP/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

He also became the subject of internet memes parodying him for his conservative positions on gay marriage and religion.

Perry left office in January after a record 14 years as governor. Under him, the state generated more than a third of America’s new private-sector jobs since 2001.

While an oil and gas boom fueled much of that economic growth, Perry credits lower taxes, restrained regulation and limits on civil litigation damages. He also pushed offering economic incentives to lure top employers to Texas and repeatedly visited states with Democratic governors to poach jobs.

With just over a month remaining until Trump is sworn in as president, it was also reported Tuesday that he had tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, dismissing concerns about the businessman’s close ties with Russia.

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. (CC BY, Wimedia/premier.gov.ru)
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. (CC BY, Wimedia/premier.gov.ru)

Trump’s decision caps a lengthy process that often played out in public and exposed rifts within his transition team. It also sets Trump up for a potential fight with Congress over confirming Tillerson, who has connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump was set to announce Tillerson’s nomination Tuesday morning. The people close to his transition team insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the decision ahead of that announcement.

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