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RICK PERRY and the death penalty – POLITICO.com

September 4, 2011

A recent poll shows a majority of Americans support the death penalty for convicted murderers. | AP Photo Close

Rick Perry and the death penalty

By JUANA SUMMERS | 9/4/11 7:02 AM EDT Updated: 9/4/11 12:49 PM EDT

The death penalty just isn’t what it used to be in presidential politics.

As Rick Perry picks up his campaign going into the fall, his home state is set to add six more executions — including a somewhat controversial one — to the already record tally he’s amassed during his years as governor. They’ll come at what could be politically inconvenient times, as Perry participates in key debates and heads out on the trail.

But in a measure of how much the electorate’s passions have shifted, Perry’s death penalty record isn’t looking like it will have much of an effect on his White House ambitions — as a positive or a negative. That’s a big change from the days when Bernard Shaw pressed Michael Dukakis at a 1988 debate about whether he’d still oppose the death penalty for someone who’d raped and murdered his wife, or when Bill Clinton took time off the trail in 1992 to attend the execution of a brain-damaged cop killer.

“The public is a lot more ambivalent than they had been, say 15 years ago,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment. “They see it as a grayer issue now.”

A recent Gallup Poll showed the majority of Americans — 64 percent — support the death penalty for convicted murderers, but the issue has fallen from the forefront of the electorate’s interests.

That’s made the death penalty a “secondary issue,” Dieter said. “It may be a character issue. It may be an issue that people do have an opinion on, but I don’t think that it’s an issue that they vote on.”

People on both sides of the issue agree.

“The death penalty is not, at least so far, a public policy issue that people are animated about in terms of this election cycle,” said Cully Stimson, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

via Rick Perry and the death penalty – Juana Summers – POLITICO.com.

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