By John Celock
Texas’ longest serving governor is seeking a second bite at the presidential apple, formally entering the contest Thursday.
Former Gov. Rick Perry (R) sought to move past his failed 2012 presidential campaign with a speech at a rally in Addison, Tex. that sought to highlight his own biography and vision with attacks on President Barack Obama. Perry, who left the governor’s office in January, had run in 2012, a race marked by him forgetting the name of a Cabinet department he wanted to shut down during a debate and saying “oops” in response.
“We’re at the end of an era of failed leadership,” Perry said. “We’ve been led by a divider who has sliced and diced the electorate.”
Perry’s speech sounded much like the other Republicans who have entered the GOP’s crowded 2016 presidential field, with attacks on Obama and his foreign and domestic policy. Perry said that he would seek to reverse Obama’s foreign policy, which he said has been weak, along with repealing Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank Act, which regulates the financial services industry.
Among the actions Perry pledged was to sign an executive order to construct the Keystone Pipeline on his first day as president, along with signing an executive order to allow U.S. natural gas to be exported to Europe, which he said would reduce the power of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Vladimir Putin uses energy to hold our allies hostage,” Perry said. “If energy is going to used as a weapon America will have the largest arsenal.”
Perry indicated that he wanted to revisit regulations enacted by the Obama Administration, along with securing the border with Mexico. Perry did use the speech to take a swipe at the financial services industry, saying that he did not want to support “Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.”
Perry also said that Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq has harmed the country and world.
Calling the country “resilient” Perry said that he could lead after Obama.
“We even made it through Jimmy Carter, we will make it through the Obama years,” he said.
Perry spent much of his speech talking about his rural upbringing and work as a farmer. He noted that he grew up for a period of time with an outhouse and came back to farm in west Texas after college. He noted his start in the Texas House of Representatives and then his tenure in the governor’s mansion.
“I had the privilege to serve a rural community in the Texas Legislature and I led the world’s 12th largest economy,” he said.
Perry enters the presidential race following a tenure as one of the longest serving governors in American history. Perry succeeded to the governorship in December of 2000 following President George W. Bush’s election. He would then be reelected three times to serve a total of 14 years in the governor’s mansion. Perry’s 2010 reelection came after a competitive GOP primary against then U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
While he held what is considered the nation’s weakest governorship, Perry is noted for appointing members to every policy making board in the state.
Perry’s gubernatorial tenure came after a two-year stint as lieutenant governor and an eight-year tenure as Texas’ elected agriculture commissioner. Perry’s entrance into statewide politics in 1990 came as Texas Republicans began a campaign to dominate state politics, including control of all statewide offices starting in 1998. Perry’s 1998 lieutenant governor campaign was largely seen as a shadow gubernatorial race in the event of Bush’s presidential victory.
The end of Perry’s governorship was marked by his indictment on abuse of power charges, related to an allegation that he threatened to veto funds for state corruption prosecutors in return for a county district attorney’s resignation. The case is pending.
Perry is the fourth Republican presidential candidate with Texas connections this year following Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Both Paul and Bush grew up in Texas. Bush is due to announce his candidacy later this month.
Perry made his rural upbringing central to his announcement, noting that it shaped him politically.
“There is no person on earth more optimistic than a dry land cotton farmer. We always know a good rain is just around the corner,” he said. “The values learned on my family’s cotton farm are timeless.”