ADDISON, Texas — Former Governor Rick Perry’s (R-TX) 2012 presidential campaign was a roller coaster ride, shooting to the top of the polls when he first entered the race, then plummeting back down after a series of debate missteps.
Now, as he prepares to launch his second run for the White House, Perry is taking a more serious, humble approach to the campaign, emphasizing his military service and policy record. Despite the already crowded Republican primary field, Perry’s team is confident that he will be a viable contender.
As Breitbart News reported, Perry will officially announce he is running for president on Thursday, June 4th at the Addison Airport, just north of Dallas. His top advisers have been in town this week making final preparations, and Perry’s website has now been updated with a new “Perry for President” logo.
— Team Rick Perry (@TeamRickPerry) June 4, 2015
In 2012, Perry entered the race with a solid dose of Texas swagger, riding high on a juggernaut state economy that was the raison d’être for his campaign. However, he faced two major challenges that would quickly prove insurmountable: his recovery from back surgery taking longer than expected, and the short period of time before entering the race that left him, as he has admitted, unprepared for the rigorous debates.
This time around, Perry has been quick to point out that he is in excellent health, and he has spent the past few years engaged in serious study with a long list of policy advisers.
Perry’s successor, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), has thus far declined to take sides in the primary but told Breitbart News that it had been “a privilege to work alongside” Perry in his previous role as Attorney General. Calling Perry a conservative leader and friend, Abbott added, “I’ll always be the first to caution anyone against underestimating a Texan.”
A key member of Perry’s policy team is Avik Roy, who joined the team as Senior Advisor to RickPAC back in April. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Forbes opinion editor, and National Review contributor, Roy’s hire was viewed by many as a coup for Perry.
Previously serving as a health care policy adviser to former Governor Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) 2012 presidential campaign, and well-respected in the conservative policy world on that issue, Roy said that Perry, like virtually all Republican candidates shares his opposition to Obamacare. However, it was Perry’s overall record and positions on issues across the board that made Roy enthusiastic about joining the campaign team.
Roy told Breitbart News that he would be “involved in all aspects” of the development of Perry’s platform, and how the policies “fit into the broad themes of the campaign.”
In addition to policy, Roy will have the “opportunity to play a broad role,” including providing strategic and communications advice. “You can have the best ideas in the world,” said Roy, “but if you can’t be an effective messenger for those ideas, it doesn’t matter.”
Although several other campaigns had reached out to try to hire him as a health care adviser, being able to serve in a broader role with Perry was a factor in Roy’s decision. “It’s not every day you get that call,” he said, to work on a presidential campaign, much less in such a central role, not to mention a candidate with a record like Perry’s.
He acknowledged that people had fair reason to be skeptical after Perry’s 2012 stumbles, but he believed that Perry’s record in Texas would help him earn a second look. Roy, who grew up in Texas, said that Perry’s story is more than just being lucky enough to preside over one of the greatest and longest lasting economic booms in Texas, but “how much Perry’s policy choices and initiatives played a role in that economic growth,” and “how creative he’s been at applying free market principles to policy.”
Roy described Perry as a “guy who’s saying, ‘let’s do things that no one else is doing'” to address the problems average Texans and Americans are facing. “Look at what he’s actually done,” continued Roy, calling Perry “arguably the most creative governor in the country,” accomplishing things that “actually make a difference in people’s lives.”
When asked for an example, Roy pointed to Perry’s crusade to develop a $10,000 college degree. Many complain about the high cost of college — Roy characterized it as “one of the biggest barriers to income mobility for the lower and middle class” — but Perry was the “only one actually doing something… to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The solution to higher education costs offered by Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren was to “subsidize it more,” but, as Roy pointed out, the conservative approach understood how government policy drives up those costs. Instead of continuing to increase subsidies, the better way was to actually figure out how to make it less expensive, like developing technology like online classes.
Perry tackled higher education costs “long before it was fashionable,” said Roy. “I could go through ten things like that,” where Perry had been a leader on the issue.
“The agenda’s relatively cookie cutter on many campaigns,” continued Roy. “What I love about Perry is he’s a conservative through and through,” but when it comes to applying that conservatism, “he’s much more inventive, much more entrepreneurial” than many other contenders.
The economic issues that were central to Perry’s 2012 campaign will undoubtedly play a significant role once again — he proudly touted Texas’ economic record in a speech in Orlando on Tuesday — but the 2016 Perry has broadened his focus.
Perhaps most notably is how military and foreign policy issues have taken on a new prominence in Perry’s speeches. Other than longshot Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Perry will be the only Republican candidate with military experience, having flown C-130 tactical aircraft during the 1970s in Europe and the Middle East. Perry has said that his world view was uniquely shaped by his time in uniform. Perry’s updated website puts his military service and national security policy views front and center, much more so than four years ago.
Perry’s foreign policy speeches have won accolades, like the spirited remarks he delivered this spring at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina. Many of the students in the audience could end up seeing combat after they graduate, and Perry spoke from his heart, empathizing with what they were facing.
While Perry’s 2016 campaign will not be as exclusively focused on economic issues as he was in 2012, they will still play a major role. Perry’s fourteen years as governor made him the longest-serving in Texas history and offered him the time to develop an unprecedented level of power and influence. Accordingly, this lends greater credibility to Perry taking credit for Texas’s booming economy.
According to the Texas Tribune, Perry made over 8,000 appointments as governor, “allowing him to put his conservative stamp on every corner of state government — all from a perch that the state’s founding fathers, suspicious of centralized authority, intentionally weakened.” These appointments meant that people who were loyal to Perry and supported his vision for Texas were in leadership positions throughout the offices and agencies that would be responsible for implementing Perry’s policies and in the courts that would be responsible for interpreting those policies and ruling on their constitutionality.
The end result of the work of Perry and his team after those fourteen years is an economic record that is the envy of many other governors. Texas, according to Perry, is now the twelfth largest economy in the world. Since 2000, Texas has created one-third of all the jobs in the United States, and America’s recovery from the recession can be credited to the jobs created in Texas.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson told Breitbart News that he viewed Perry as “the submarine candidate,” describing him as a well-tuned machine that was humming along quietly, all systems running smoothly under the surface of the water where most people were not noticing him. “Rick Perry is due for his moment soon,” said Wilson, and “the economic story of Texas is still a great story” that any candidate would love to be able to tell.
Breitbart News will be reporting from Addison for Perry’s announcement. Tickets for the general public are free and available at Eventbrite.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.
This article has been updated.