AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A look at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “I’d be fibbing to you if I told you I knew what I’m going to be doing.” –May, in Iowa. Says he’ll decide in January.
Book: Not since 2010.
Iowa visits: Yes, three times in six months. Campaigned for Senate hopeful Matt Whitaker in late May (Whitaker lost in the primary) and promised to return often for Gov. Terry Branstad’s re-election campaign. Visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. Met Branstad and addressed Des Moines crowd in November.
New Hampshire: No, but had group of 13 conservative leaders from the state visit Texas for private meeting in May.
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.
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: 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 after so many years in office in Texas. In May, attended Manhattan Champions of Jewish Values event with megadonor Sheldon Adelson and a possible presidential rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. 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, interrupted by cries of “Run, Rick, run!” while addressing Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in May, following recent appearances in Florida and Pennsylvania. That speech went better than last summer, when he mistakenly referred to being in Florida during a RedState Gathering event in New Orleans. Also spoke at past two Conservative Political Action Conferences.
Hog the TV: Making many national TV appearances while starring in media spots designed to persuade businesses in Democratic-led states to move to Texas. On “Meet the Press” in May: “I’m going to be across the country talking about red-state versus blue-state policies. Hopefully engaged in a good, thoughtful, winsome conversation about how do we make America more competitive.” Debated the 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 saw the state create a third of the net new jobs nationwide for 10 years ending in 2013, although Texas has disproportionately high percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less. Toyota’s U.S. headquarters is moving to Texas from California, as is Occidental Petroleum’s HQ. 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: In June, likened homosexuality to alcoholism as a condition that can be controlled, bringing a sharp rebuke from potential rival Chris Christie. Perry said that, for example, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” 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.
Baggage: “Oops!” Memories of his stumbling and what he now calls “humbling” 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: Owns up to his “botched efforts” in last campaign. He’s got a more serious, mature look with dark-framed eyeglasses and more touches of gray for the man long dubbed “Governor Good Hair.” Also a potential drag: a grand jury investigation in Austin into whether he abused power by cutting off state financing for an office of public corruption prosecutors led by a Democrat who refused to resign after being convicted of drunken driving.
Shadow campaign: Created Americans for Economic Freedom in 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican governors nationwide. Using funds 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. That group and public-private marketing fund TexasOne 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.
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