2016 Campaign Checklist: Perry
A look at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: "It’s a long way down the road." - Iowa, February. Says he’ll decide in December.
Book: Not since 2010.
Iowa visits: Yes, visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. Also met with Gov. Terry Branstad and addressed a Des Moines crowd of 400 in November.
New Hampshire: No.
South Carolina: Yes, spoke to state GOP in December. Also visited in August to raise money for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign. This is the state where he announced his failed presidential campaign, in August 2011, and where he dropped out, in January 2012, two days before its primary.
Foreign travel: Yes, has visited Israel numerous times including an October trip that included a photo op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting Cabinet members, and a separate stop in London to see British officials and financial leaders.
Meet the money: Yes, very friendly with major donors nationwide as former head of the Republican Governors Association, and has strong contacts with both grass-roots activists and mainstream GOP donors from his years in office. Since announcing last summer he won’t seek a fourth full term, has had more time to work the phones privately. Also has led many job-poaching missions in big states with Democratic governors and met privately during those trips with key donors, especially in New York and California.
Networking: Yes, spoke at the past two Conservative Political Action Conferences, as well as its regional meeting in St. Louis in September. Addressed conservative activists at a RedState Gathering in New Orleans in August, mistakenly saying he was in Florida. Job-rob tour in various states helped make connections.
Hog the TV: Raising his profile lately, making several national TV appearances while starring in a flood of media spots in California designed to persuade businesses based there to move to Texas. Previously, though, not much. Only a few Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, including one in February with three other governors. Said on CNN in February "it wasn’t appropriate" for his old friend, renegade rocker Ted Nugent, to call President Barack Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Perry debated health care law on "Crossfire" in September with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s considering running for Democratic presidential nomination.
Do something: "Texas Miracle" job-creation boom has seen state create a third of the net new jobs nationwide over last decade, although Texas has disproportionately high percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less. Helped muscle new abortion restrictions into law last summer. Challenged the Democratic candidate to replace him as governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, on the abortion issue by asking, what if her mother had aborted her?
Take a stand: A prominent voice on conservative issues since before the birth of the tea party. Wants to ban all abortion in Texas, relax environmental regulations, boost states’ rights; opposes gay marriage and says the health care law is doomed.
Baggage: "Oops!" Memories of his stumbling 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: He’s got a more serious, mature look with dark-framed eyeglasses first donned in August and more touches of gray for the man long dubbed "Governor Good Hair." He followed up his "oops" brain freeze in a November 2011 debate, when he forgot the name of the third federal department he wanted to close - the Energy Department - by poking fun at himself and by noting frequently that "second chances are what America’s all about."
Shadow campaign: Created a political action committee, Americans for Economic Freedom, in 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican governors around the country. Using more than $200,000 left over from the PAC that raised millions for his 2012 campaign, the group was formed with Jeff Miller, a former chief financial officer for the California Republican Party, as CEO. Board members include Marc Rodriguez, chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a fellow Texan, St. Louis beer baron August Busch III, economist Art Laffer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 White House campaign Perry endorsed upon giving up his own presidential bid. That PAC and private marketing fund Texas One have paid for much of Perry’s domestic and overseas travel.
Social media: Active. One popular tweet was accidental - from his pocket, he said - and consisted of "I." Followers jumped in to complete his sentence. One offered: "I ... really like Obamacare." (He doesn’t.) Facebook appears staff-generated. Calls himself now simply a politician, though he was still listed on Facebook as a presidential candidate long after he left the 2012 race.