Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his presidential campaign four years ago as an instant front-runner — a proven job-creator with solid conservative credentials, formidable fundraising prowess and perhaps enough cowboy swagger to take Republicans by storm.
Now he’s back, hitting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina hard and early, and studying up on policy to become better prepared.
A senior adviser to Perry said that the former governor will make the widely expected announcement that he’s in the 2016 race on Thursday in Dallas. The adviser requested anonymity to speak ahead of the formal announcement.
Despite his brain freeze on a Michigan debate stage in November 2011 — he forgot the third federal agency he promised to close if elected, then muttered “Oops” — Perry still has the policy record that made him an early force last time.
Perry left office in January after a record 14 years as governor. Under him, the state generated more than a third of America’s new private-sector jobs since 2001.
While an oil and gas boom fueled much of that economic growth, Perry credits lower taxes, restrained regulation and limits on civil litigation damages. He also pushed offering economic incentives to lure top employers to Texas and repeatedly visited states with Democratic governors to poach jobs.
Perry was thought to be a cinch for four more years as governor in 2014, but instead turned back to White House ambitions. His effort may be complicated this time by a felony indictment on abuse of power and coercion charges, from when he threatened — then carried out — a veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors. That came when the unit’s Democratic head rebuffed Perry’s demands that she resign following a drunk driving conviction.
Perry calls the case against him a political “witch hunt,” but his repeated efforts to get it tossed on constitutional grounds have so far proved unsuccessful. That raises the prospect he’ll have to leave the campaign trail to head to court in Texas.
Perry blamed lingering pain from back surgery in the summer of 2011 for part of the reason he performed poorly in the 2012 campaign. He has ditched his trademark cowboy boots for more comfortable footwear and wears glasses that give him a serious look.