Trump Reportedly Considering Rick Perry As Next Homeland Security Head

Rick Perry, the next head of Homeland Security?
Rick Perry, the next head of Homeland Security? Screengrab from PBS Newshour

Watching Energy Secretary Rick Perry sporting sequins as he awkwardly ambled across the floor on Dancing With the Stars last year would lead many Americans to assume the former Texas governor's political career was dead.

But Perry has proven shockingly resilient — and he may be up for another plum post in the Trump administration.

First, Perry became President Donald Trump's Secretary of Energy, and now — only a week after the world learned he had been duped into taking a prank phone call from two Russian comedians posing as the Ukrainian prime minister — Perry might take on an even more public position in Trump's cabinet.

Now that John Kelly has left the Department of Homeland Security to take the reins as White House chief of staff, that post is vacant, and Trump is reportedly considering giving Perry the job of secretary of Homeland Security.

That's right, Perry, the "oops" guy, might end up being in charge of protecting the United States from domestic and international terrorists and responding to natural disasters as the head of the department that oversees everything from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to the Coast Guard. (His people say he's focused on running the Energy Department, but that's the type of bland non-denial everyone tends to use in these situations.)

It seems like a strange possibility on all counts. If Trump does pick our former governor, Perry, a career politician from his perfect hair to his dress cowboy boots, will have replaced Kelly, a former Marine general with a background similar to those of previous Homeland Security secretaries. Since the department was created in the wake of 9/11, some of the previous seven secretaries have been more politically inclined, but most of them have military backgrounds.

Perry would also be an unusual pick from the standpoint of his views on immigration.

Kelly has taken a hard line on immigration, in keeping with Trump's views. During his brief tenure as head of the department, Kelly was already working to strengthen immigration enforcement and was a vocal proponent of Trump's plan to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.

The former Texas governor knows immigration issues, and his take has previously been fairly nuanced for a Texas Republican. While Perry supports the border wall plan, he also supported state legislation that gave children of undocumented immigrants the right to pay in-state college tuition. Perry also accused Republicans in 2012 of not having a heart on the immigration issue.

It seems as if Trump will want an immigration hardliner to succeed Kelly, so it will be interesting to see if Perry is willing to do that.

Of course, we live in a world where Perry still has a political career, so anything is possible.
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Dianna Wray is a nationally award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Houston, she writes about everything from NASA to oil to horse races.
Contact: Dianna Wray