MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Rick Perry is running again. The former Texas governor officially launched his second presidential bid today. Perry insists that the gaffes of his first run for the Republican nomination are behind him and that he’s now ready to be the next president of the United States. Here’s NPR’s Wade Goodwyn from Dallas.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: With his black frames and mature, rugged good looks, Rick Perry is straight out of central casting. In his Internet video announcing his candidacy this morning, Perry presents himself as a man who will tell you the unvarnished truth.
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RICK PERRY: You see a lot of candidates who will say the right things, whether it’s about the border, whether it’s about taxes, whether it’s about spending – but we need a president who has done the right thing.
GOODWYN: At the millionaire private jet hangar at the Addison Airport, hundreds of enthusiastic supporters filed past a massive C-130, which is what Perry piloted for the Air Force back in the ’70s. Entrepreneur Karen Docksey flew from Minnesota to be here.
You seem very happy.
KAREN DOCKSEY: Yes. (Laughter). I’m happy to be here.
GOODWYN: Docksey likes Perry’s pro-life credentials and she wants America to get tougher overseas and says Rick Perry will do it.
DOCKSEY: This is the start of something great, and it gives me a lot of hope for the future and inspiration.
GOODWYN: In the shadow of the massive cargo plane, Perry donned the mantle of commander-in-chief.
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PERRY: Weakness at home has led to weakness abroad. The world has descended into a chaos of this president’s own making. No decision has done more harm than the president’s withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
GOODWYN: Perry has two roadblocks he must overcome – one old, one new. The old roadblock is his performance during the presidential debates of 2011.
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PERRY: I can’t – sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Laughter).
GOODWYN: America had a good laugh at Rick Perry’s expense. The question is, have voters so made up their minds about the former Texas governor that it’s futile to try again? Republican Political Consultant Allen Blakemore thinks the answer is no, that Perry can get past it.
ALLEN BLAKEMORE: Because of what he has done and what he has accomplished over his tenure in public service and the track record that he’s built here in Texas, and I think people have to give him a second look.
GOODWYN: The other roadblock is new and potentially a big one. Governor Rick Perry was indicted last year by a special prosecutor for abuse of power and coercion. The case involves the Austin district attorney, a Democrat, who was arrested and convicted of driving while intoxicated. Perry tried to force Rosemary Lehmberg to resign and threatened to defund state monies for her office if she didn’t. Perry is unrepentant and vows he’d do it all over again. GOP consultant Blakemore says this could all go away.
BLAKEMORE: Truth of the matter is, I don’t see the indictment lasting much longer. I believe it will end up going away, as it should have a long time ago.
GOODWYN: Perry has allies in high places all over Texas. His case is before a Texas appeals court, and one of the three appellate judges who will rule used to be Rick Perry’s lawyer. The governor knows the Republican primary is going to be a long-haul. If he positions himself as most Republican voters’ second choice, when the first choices start dropping out maybe he could be the last candidate left standing. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.