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Eye On Candidates
June 5, 2015

Rick Perry Is Running for President

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry became the latest but by no means the last Republican to announce his 2016 candidacy for the White House yesterday. The New York Times reports:

Rick Perry to Run for President in 2016, Shrugging Off 2012 Missteps

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor whose 2012 campaign for the White House turned into a political disaster that left him humbled and weakened, announced Thursday that he would run for president again in 2016, exuding confidence in front of a crowd of veterans while making no specific reference to his first unsuccessful bid.

Mr. Perry is the latest candidate to 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.

“We are just a few good decisions away from unleashing economic growth, and reviving the American dream,” he told flag-waving supporters in a hangar at the municipal airport in this Dallas suburb. Striking a theme he is sure to repeat as he campaigns this weekend in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, he added: “It can be done because it has been done — in Texas...”

As the headline suggests, Perry fared poorly in his 2012 campaign, although his late start and health issues probably contributed to that more than anything. Politico notes that his 2016 entry represents something of a political comeback:

He’s the longest-serving governor of the nation’s second-largest state. For a time in 2011, he seemed to be on a glide path to the Republican nomination. But as he launched his second presidential bid Thursday, Rick Perry finds himself languishing at the bottom of polls — not even guaranteed a spot in the first GOP debate in August.

The former Texas governor’s predicament — a product of his spectacular implosion in the 2012 race — requires him to engineer what would be one of the most improbable political comebacks in recent memory...

The Perry camp attributes the campaign meltdown — punctuated by a stunning brain freeze during a nationally televised debate — to the candidate’s health and a hasty decision to run in June 2011. The governor was still recovering from back surgery and overlooked his own lack of preparation and the absence of any real early-state organization...

The article goes on to note Perry's significant efforts to undo the political damage of his ill-fated race:

It’s not just the hip, dark-rimmed glasses signaling a more studious candidate, although that’s certainly the image the eyewear is meant to convey. Before Perry started showing up in Iowa, he convened Miller and a few top advisers in Austin in early 2013 to take stock of where they stood and to plot a path toward 2016...

That prep work began not long after the 2012 election. In February 2013, Perry went to Palo Alto, California, to meet with former Secretary of State George Shultz at Stanford’s Hoover Institution; the session, a private foreign policy seminar, was the start of some 2 1/2 years of weekly policy meetings with experts and outside advisers — Art Laffer, Henry Kissinger, Larry Kudlow and Newt Gingrich, among them.

It’s a far cry from the cocksure governor who, four years ago, was being handed six-inch policy binders and cramming in the car on the way to debates. Perry has also made a number of foreign trips to places like Israel, Poland, Japan and China, providing him with useful overseas experience in an election where national security and foreign affairs issues top the list of GOP voter concerns...

Perry has a long haul ahead of him to even get into the debates, which will be limited to the top ten candidates according to a mix of national public opinion polls. Perry is currently in that tenth position, but just barely according to a recent article in The Hill:

If the debates were held right now, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be the lucky 10th person — though just by the skin of his teeth. 

Perry’s average showing across the most recent five nationwide polls, excluding one from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, is 2.4 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both average 1.6 percent and would be forced to sit out the debates.

Perry's a gifted politician and a good campaigner, with a record and message likely to appeal to the conservative base. The biggest unknown at this point is whether Republican voters will give him the second chance he's been working hard to earn.