The 2016 election will be one in which “voters will look past what you say to what you’ve done,” Rick Perry says in a new video on his website. The former four-term governor of Texas will put that to the test, as he announced on his website overnight that he will run for the Republican presidential nomination — again. Later today, Perry will make a public announcement in Addison, Texas:
Rick Perry, the former Texas governor whose 2012 campaign for the White House turned into a political disaster that humbled and weakened the most powerful Republican in the state, announced Thursday that he will run for president again in 2016.
Mr. Perry is the latest candidate to officially enter a crowded field of Republican presidential contenders, declared and undeclared, several of whom have Texas ties and have overshadowed him in recent months, including Senator Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, Mr. Perry’s predecessor in the governor’s mansion.
Mr. Perry made the announcement on his website and planned a speech later in the day at a small municipal airport here in Addison, a northern suburb of downtown Dallas.
In promoting his political plans, Mr. Perry has cited his 14-year tenure as governor of the nation’s second-most-populous state and a vibrant Texas economy he has called “the envy of the nation.” As he has often pointed out, Texas added 1.8 million private-sector jobs on his watch, from January 2001 to October 2014, although his critics — and some economists — say he is taking too much credit for macro-economic forces, including an oil boom, beyond his control during that time.
Well, Perry had to be doing something right. It wasn’t just a coincidence that a third of all new jobs after the recession came in Texas, and the oil boom was not just a Texas phenomenon. The “macro-economic forces” over the years since the Great Recession have actually been a lot less than phenomenal, so the growth in Texas is remarkable on any level, and Perry was the man at the top during the entire time.
The biography video uploaded last night to the channel tells the campaign story Perry wants: a military veteran, a successful governor, and a man who connects with both the grassroots and the establishment to bring unity to the GOP. The flip side of this story is that all this was true in 2012, and the nomination could have been Perry’s for the taking except for the implosion during the primary. The campaign isn’t running away from that debacle, and they’ve wisely chosen Anita Perry as their point person for confronting it head-on:
“Rick is absolutely the guy that you want to have a beer with, but he’s so much more than that. He’s prepared now,” Anita said. “I want people to really give him a second look.”
Rick kicked off his first presidential bid in 2011 with six weeks of preparation, and he vaulted to the top of the polls. Things quickly unraveled.
He hadn’t fully recovered from an elective back surgery, was in pain and didn’t get much sleep. As a result, he couldn’t campaign as aggressively as he wanted to. He made errors like the infamous “oops” moment on the debate stage when he forgot one of the government agencies he wanted to eliminate.
“He will tell you he was arrogant at that time,” Anita said. A former nurse, both she and her husband underestimated how severely his back surgery would impact him. “I had a health care background. I should’ve realized he wasn’t ready and prepared health-wise, but I didn’t,” she said.
Will it work? His top 2012 strategist isn’t so sure, but says Perry has the skills to try:
“He’s an excellent retail politician. He’s really passionate. He’s a very positive, optimistic guy,” [Dave] Carney said. Still, “it’s really difficult to reintroduce yourself when you’ve had such a spectacular failure.”
In a separate CNN interview, Anita Perry says that America is a nation of “second chances.” Expect to hear that theme when this topic comes up, but Team Perry has to hope it will fade fast. If voters and analysts are still chewing over his 2012 performance in October, the reboot will not have succeeded. As CNN’s reporter in the first piece notes, there will be no margin for error for Perry — he will have to hit every note correctly, especially in debates, in order to quiet the ghosts of 2012.
If he can do that, though, Perry can be a force in this cycle. He may be the one GOP candidate who can bridge the past with the present and future, thanks to his ability to charm all sides of the Republican coalition of factions. He does well on the stump and even better at retail politicking, as Carney says — both passionate and sincere in his personal interactions. While the Republican bench is strong and young, Perry has also won elections in the post-Bush, post-Great Recession, Tea Party electorate. He knows how to reach voters, and how to energize them.
The issue for the GOP will be that this could look like another next-in-line choice, but Perry had left the race before the Iowa caucuses in 2012. If Perry plays his cards right, it will look less like that than it will a comeback story, a narrative that Americans love as well — seeing a man make the most of a second chance. If nothing else, Rick Perry will make this election cycle a little more interesting.