Perry in Limelight as Host to 240,000 Evacuees

9-8-05 - In little more than a week, Gov. Rick Perry went from beleaguered politician gearing up for a rough primary to magnanimous host, welcoming tens of thousands of hurricane refugees to safe haven in Texas.

Far from appearing worried about the burden of so many guests, the Republican governor is touring Texas and assuring Hurricane Katrina evacuees that their neighbor state is here to help.

As President Bush gets blamed for the sluggish federal response to the storm, Perry is enjoying praise for his actions _ even from the campaign of one of his political opponents.

"I think Texas comes out smelling like a rose so far," said Bruce Buchanan, a government professor at the University of Texas.

The 55-year-old Perry, a ferocious campaigner who has never lost a race, ascended to governor from lieutenant governor in 2000 when Bush resigned to become president.