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

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from The New York Times,

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.”

The location had to do with his giant stage prop — a four-propeller C-130 plane, the type he flew while serving in the Air Force in the 1970s. The plane illustrated one of the ways that Mr. Perry plans to distinguish himself from the other Republican candidates, by emphasizing his service in the military and his support from veterans, several of whom joined him on stage, including Marcus Luttrell, a former member of the Navy SEALs whose memoir about being the only survivor of a four-man team attacked in 2005 by the Taliban in Afghanistan inspired the movie “Lone Survivor.”

In his speech, Mr. Perry, 65, also sought to separate himself from the Republican pack by casting himself as a leader who has done the work rather than a politician who talks about doing it, pointing to his handling of natural disasters and crises at the border and his 14-year tenure as governor of a state with one of the largest economies in the world.

“The question of every candidate will be this: When have you led?” Mr. Perry said. “Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor. It’s not what you say. It’s what you have done. And we will not find the kind of leadership needed to revitalize the country by looking to the political class in Washington.”

But whether Mr. Perry has done enough to repair the damage from his failed run in 2012 and move out of the second tier of candidates remains unclear.

In some ways, Mr. Perry’s expected entry into the race signals a remarkable political comeback.

His 2012 bid for president was filled with gaffes that became national punch lines. He uttered “oops” during a debate after he failed to recall the name of one of three federal agencies he would eliminate if elected president. In the years since, Mr. Perry has worked at retooling and sharpening both his image and his political chops, making frequent trips to early voting states, meeting with influential policy experts, attending the World Economic Forum in 2014 in Switzerland and even making two cosmetic changes — donning hipster-style black-rimmed eyeglasses and trading his cowboy boots for black loafers.

Mr. Perry’s policies may not have drastically changed, but his performance has improved, and he appears to have recuperated from the back problems that afflicted him in 2012.

Mr. Perry has another problem that could hurt his campaign: a criminal indictment. A grand jury in Austin indicted him in August on two felony charges of abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant.

Mr. Perry pressured the Democratic district attorney in Austin’s Travis County to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to the anticorruption unit in her office.

The district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, who had been arrested on a charge of drunken driving, remained in office, and Mr. Perry ultimately vetoed $7.5 million for the anticorruption unit.

Mr. Perry and his lawyers have denied any wrongdoing, saying that the veto was lawful. Both Democrats and Republicans believe the case could hinder his campaign. “I’d be surprised if the electorate regards a felony indictment for abuse of power as a qualification for the presidency,” said Craig McDonald, the director of Texans for Public Justice, the watchdog group that filed the original complaint against Mr. Perry.

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