Governor Rick Perry (R,Tx) admitted to reporters that he does not fully understand the details of his two count felony indictment, according to ABC News on Friday. Perry, who was trying to minimize the indictment while speaking in the early primary state of New Hampshire, explained that he was not a lawyer and therefore did not fully understand the charges brought against him.
Perry has been indicted on charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public official, relating to his threat to veto the bill to fund his state's Public Integrity unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lemhberg resigned from that agency. Lehmberg, who had been convicted on a DWI charge and served forty-five days in jail, had refused to resign despite Perry's repeated pleas for her to do so. Finally Perry had resorted to making veto threats against the agency and ultimately did veto the funding bill when it became abundantly clear to him that Lehmberg was not going to resign.
In the wake of Perry's threats and veto action, a grand jury indicted Perry on charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public official. Both are felony charges and potentially could result in a 109 year prison sentence for the Texas Governor if he is convicted on both counts. The abuse of power charge relates to Perry's veto of the Public Integrity unit's funding bill as a reprisal against Lehmberg for not resigning. The coercion of a public official charge relates to Perry's repeated pleas to Lehmberg to resign and his threats to veto her agency's funding bill unless she resigned.
Perry was a Republican contender for President in 2012. He was leading in the polls until one of the early debates when he forgot a key component of his campaign platform and asked his opponents in the debate to refresh his memory. Perry has scheduled a number of speaking engagements in early primary states such as New Hampshire, although he has not announced his candidacy yet and still claims that he has not made up his mind.
Perry was philosophical about his effort to sway voters in the early primary states, comparing it to the early stages of a marriage and getting to know one's spouse:
“I just think you have to spend a lot of time in these states if you’re going to do it. It’s like a relationship before you get married. There are a few times I guess people meet and it just works right off the bat but generally there’s a courtship that goes on. There is a period of time that you need to spend with people. They need to know you and I need to do that, and I didn’t do that."
In the meantime, Perry has been highly critical of President Obama on the ISIS situation, questioning the President's ability to handle the crisis. However, at this point, it is unlikely that Perry's criticisms of Obama will gain much traction on the national stage.