ADDISON (CBSDFW.COM) – As expected Thursday, former Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he is making another run for the White House.
Anita Perry took the stage inside an Addison Airport hanger just after 11:30 a.m. She said, “It is heartwarming for me to see so many friends and family who traveled to be with us today. Rick and I are excited to be here.”
Anita Perry spoke about some of her husband’s supporters and said that his White House bid is not selfish. “It’s not about us. There are causes greater than anyone of us here today.”
Saying that America needs a leader who transcends the petty politics of Washington, Anita Perry then made the highly anticipated introduction,“I think I might know a man who has all the right qualifications to make America great again. Please welcome my husband, Rick Perry.”
Walking out onto the stage, in front of dozens of supporters, military veterans and an AC-130 cargo plane, Rick Perry began by talking about his childhood and his family’s military history. “I was born five years after the end of a global war that killed more than 60 million people. I’m the son of a veteran of that war who flew 30 missions over war-torn Europe as a tail gunner on a V-17.”
Perry, who is one of only two Republican presidential candidates who has served in the military, reflected on his military experience and years as a leader in the Lone Star State. “I’ve seen American life,” he said. “I’ve seen it from the red dirt of a west Texas cotton field, from a campus in College Station Texas, from the elevated view from a C-130 cockpit, and from the Governor’s office of the Texas capitol.” Perry is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and candidate Lindsey Graham also served in uniform.
The rose-colored reflections quickly turned from personal to politics. Perry began slamming efforts by President Barack Obama. He said, “Our economic slowdown is not inevitable, it just happens to be the direct result of bad economic policy. The President’s tax and regulatory policies have slammed the doors shut, of opportunity, for the average American who’s trying climb the economic ladder, resigning the middle class to stagnant wages, to personal debt, to deferred dreams.”
Before talking about war policy in Iraq, Perry said, “Weakness at home has led to weakness to abroad. The world has descended into a chaos of this President’s own making.”
Perry told the crowd that “no decision has done more harm” than President Obama’s withdrawing troops from Iraq. “Let no one be mistaken, leaders of both parties have made grave mistakes in Iraq. But in January of 2009, when Barack Obama became Commander in Chief, Iraq had been largely pacified. America had won the war, but our President failed to secure the peace.”
Lightening the mood, Perry spoke about the resilience of America joking, “We even made it through Jimmy Cater. We will make it through the Obama years.”
Shortly after that comment supporters got the news they had been waiting for. With beads of sweat on his brow, from the North Texas heat, Perry proclaimed, “We have the power to make things new again, to project America’s strength again and to get our economy going again. And that is exactly why today I am running for the Presidency of the United States of America.”
The crown in Addison responded by chanting, “Run, Rick, run! Run, Rick, run! Run, Rick, run!” Perry responded by saying, “It’s time. It’s time to create real jobs, to raise wages, to create opportunity for all, to give every citizen a stake in this country, to restore hope, real hope, real hope to forgotten Americans.”
Saying that it is “time for a rest,” Perry spoke about the relationship between government and citizen. “We need to return power to the states and freedom to the individual,” he said. “The reason I’m running for President is I know for certain, our country’s best days lie ahead. There is nothing wrong in America today that a change in leadership will not make happen.”
Speaking about job development during his tenure as Governor of Texas, Perry said, “In the last seven years of my tenure Texas created 1.5 million new jobs. As a matter of fact, without Texas America would have lost 400,000 jobs. We were the engine of growth because we had a simple formula. You control taxes and spending, you implement smart regulations, you invest in an educated workforce and you stop frivolous lawsuits.”
Perry supporter Anna Mazzocchi was one of the many who attended the event in Addison. She agreed with his statement and said, “His experience as a Governor and getting the Texas economy so strong, makes him a very valuable [presidential] contender.”
It was just after midnight when Perry’s campaign released a new video and logo showing that he was indeed running for office.
This will be his second attempt in the Republican primary. Even before he left office this past January, Perry had made multiple visits to the key early states in the nomination process: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In fact, he already has events planned in Iowa this weekend.
As Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor, enters the 2016 race he will be starting from a very different position than when he first made a run for the presidency in August 2011. Polls now show that Perry’s approval ratings are in the low single-digits — in a very crowded field of declared and potential Republican candidates.
Nearly four years ago, the former governor flew to South Carolina to announce his candidacy before Red State, a group of conservative bloggers. At the time, Perry raced to the top of the polls in a much smaller group of challengers.
Now, there are as many as 15 or 16 Republicans either running for president or actively considering it: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and developer Donald Trump.
In what political analysts believe is one of Perry’s main campaign themes, he was joined on stage in Addison by various veterans and their spouses, including Taya Kyle, widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, and retired U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
In an email released by the campaign on Wednesday, Luttrell said of Perry, “His character is solid and I would take a bullet for him or Anita, Perry’s wife, any day.”
Taya Kyle said in a campaign statement, “I’ll proudly stand with one of the great leaders this state and country have ever produced: Rick Perry.”
During a one-on-one interview with Perry at his Capitol office just before he left office, CBS 11 News asked him about how he would position himself in what could be a crowded field of Republicans, and what it would take for a Republican to win the primary, and ultimately the general election. The state’s booming economy was clearly on his mind.
“Texas is a big place; the United States is a big place,” Perry said. “But I think the message is clear. Who is it that goes out there and shares a positive economic vision in particular? Who has the experience level, the background, who can really get this country back on track? I think the candidate who’s able to do that and the American people believe that these folks have the experience to make that happen, not only do they win the primary, I think they win the general election going away.”
Political analysts believe the former governor may have too much ground to make up from his failed campaign in 2012, when he left the race just before the South Carolina primary. It was Perry’s much publicized “oops” moment during a televised debate months earlier that did him in. He had forgotten a third government agency that he planned to shut down if he were elected president. The question now is: Will voters give him a second chance — especially with such a large number of candidates either running or poised to run against him?
To try to win back support nationally, Perry said, during a January interview, that he has studied numerous issues.
“Preparation is really important to run for the presidency,” he said at the time. “I’ve spent the last 22 months in a very deep effort to be prepared, whether it’s domestic policy, foreign policy, monetary policy, and I feel comfortable with the work we have done and I think it’s been reflective and I think people have seen this is a very focused and disciplined individual.”
While Perry may be a more prepared candidate, he still faces another challenge: his indictment on abuse of power charges by a Travis County grand jury and his prosecution by a specially-appointed state prosecutor. So far, the former governor and his team of attorneys have been unsuccessful in having the case thrown out. In January, Perry sought to minimize the impact that the charges would have on his campaign.
“It’ll play itself out,” Perry said then. “I have great faith in the system and that it will end in an appropriate way. I think Americans are pretty astute, and they will see this for what it is.”
The former Texas governor has lost some of his supporters and financial backers from his 2012 run, but he still has many loyal followers and donors in Texas. Even those who are supporting other candidates this time around said, if Perry survives the primaries past their first choice, they will have no problem backing him again.
But a lot has to happen before then.
Follow Jack Fink on Twitter: @cbs11jack