Is Rick Perry Less Electable in Grandpa Shoes Than Cowboy Boots?

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Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It's not a rhetorical question: The Texas governor, still flirting heavily with a presidential run, underwent back surgery earlier this month. Perry spent two nights in the hospital for spinal fusion and nerve reconstruction. The procedure was planned but apparently dismissed as minor, until reporters noticed that he'd traded in his signature cowboy boots for black orthopedic sneakers, and they started asking questions. (Odds are they made some grandpa jokes first.) He also appears to be wearing a back brace, prompting speculation that the surgery wasn't quite as easy to bounce back from as the Perry camp says, and as a presidential candidate, his health would be fair game for scrutiny. Perry's aides have pointed out that the governor hasn't slowed his schedule at all post-surgery; so what if he wants to rock some sweet all-black kicks? "He wears shoes that are comfortable,” an aide told the Times. “It’s nothing more than that.” It's exactly the image Perry is trying to cultivate: the badass, swaggering, take-no-prisoners, larger-than-life Texas Man who just wants to avoid bunions and achy arches.

The question of Perry's post-surgery comfort level does raise another question, though: Back surgery is a major and painful procedure. Maybe Perry's white-knuckling it, but more likely, he's been prescribed painkillers. If Michele Bachmann's migraine medicine was questioned, will Perry's post-surgery regimen also be fair game?

Recuperating From Surgery, Perry Persists in Campaign [NYT]