- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s well-coiffed and grinning mugshot has made him the new poster boy for political damage control — and might even boost his profile for a 2016 presidential run.

The flattering photo, which has been compared to a GQ headshot, became the talk of Twitter and ignited a firestorm of fawning media coverage Wednesday.

“Nice suit, crisp white shirt, appropriate blue tie. The look is confident, defiant but not too smug,” gushed the celebrity gossip website TMZ, adding that his mugshot looked better than music legend James Brown’s and was on par with actress Lindsay Lohan’s mugshot from the sixth time she was arrested.

PHOTOS: Politicians in prison: Public servants who've served time

Mr. Perry posed for the mugshot without his signature black-rimmed glasses, which police required him to remove. Stripped of the glasses, the governor fixed a steely stare into the police camera and struck a tight-lipped smile.

The episode easily could have been a PR disaster for Mr. Perry, who is eyeing another run for the Republican presidential nomination after an embarrassing failed campaign in 2012. He dropped out of that race after flubbing a debate, forgetting which federal departments he planned to eliminate and exclaiming, “Oops!”

Mr. Perry was booked Tuesday on two felony counts of abuse of power for using his veto authority to try to oust a Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg. She runs a public integrity unit but was arrested for drunken driving and caught on video berating police officers during her arrest.

SEE ALSO: Business as usual: Rick Perry in Washington this Thursday, then it’s on to New Hampshire

Ms. Lehmberg served jail time and underwent counseling before returning to her post. When she refused Mr. Perry’s call to resign, he vetoed $7.5 million in state funding for the unit.

A Travis County prosecutor decided to charge Mr. Perry, saying his public vows to veto the bill if Ms. Lehmberg didn’t resign constituted an illegal threat. If convicted, Mr. Perry could theoretically be sentenced to more than 100 years in a Texas prison.

The governor pleaded not guilty and denounced the charges as politically motivated.

Still, Mr. Perry emerged from the courthouse well positioned in the PR battle over the charges.

His mugshot was immediately compared favorably with Ms. Lehmberg’s mugshot, in which she appeared bleary eyed with mussed hair.

“@GovernorPerry turns himself in, rocks his mugshot like a GQ boss (unlike his drunken nemesis),” tweeted eavesdropann@eavesdropann.

Not all the commentary was pro-Perry. A rash of Twitter posts photoshopped the mugshot with adornments such as big glasses, ladies hairdos or a pirate eye patch.

“No no Rick Perry, it’s ‘mugshot’ not ‘smugshot,’” tweeted Kumail Nanjiani@kumailn.

The governor also downplayed the police booking by afterwards going out for ice cream with a couple of his aides. He posted a picture of their visit to the ice cream stand on Twitter.

Story Continues →