Rick Perry Returns to Florida, Hopes not to Relive Flop
Around the State
Rick Perry is coming back to Orlando, where his presidential candidacy started coming off the tracks.
The Texas governor, a once and perhaps future Republican presidential hopeful, will be speaking at Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) “Defending the American Dream Summit” in Orlando in August.
Tim Phillips, the president of AFP, announced on Wednesday night that Perry will be speaking at the event which will be held from Aug. 30-31. Despite a lackluster and gaffe-filled bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, Perry has opened the door to making a second bid. Earlier this month, Perry announced he would not seek another term as governor, which increased speculation that he would shoot for the White House in 2016.
“During the governor’s time in office, Texas has emerged as an economic powerhouse where the American dream is alive and well,” Phillips continued. “Even the worst recession since the Great Depression couldn’t derail Texas’ rapid job growth and expanding economy. Over the last decade, a third of all jobs created in the U.S. were created in Texas. Known for his straightforward, no-nonsense style, Governor Perry is a great addition to our already celebrated speaking lineup.”
Perry’s return to Orlando could bring up bad memories from two years ago. Going into the Republican Party of Florida’s (RPOF) Presidency 5 event in September 2011, Perry was seen as the main conservative challenger to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. But Perry stumbled badly at Presidency 5. During a nationally televised debate during the Presidency 5 event, Perry was often on the defensive and slow to respond to attacks.
Despite an impressive campaign team with deep Florida roots and the support of some major Sunshine State Republicans -- including then-Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon -- Perry failed to impress many of the party faithful and placed second in an upset to businessman Herman Cain in a straw poll. Perry’s campaign continued to implode with a series of bad debate performances, most memorably when he said “oops” after being unable to remember which three federal departments he would eliminate, until he pulled out of the contest and endorsed Newt Ginrgich.
But despite the 2012 fiasco, Perry has expressed interest in running for the presidency again in 2016. Perry is raising his national profile again and his recent trips to lure businesses to Texas have won some him favorable coverage from conservative pundits.
But Perry does not start out in the 2016 election in the strong position from which he launched his 2012 bid. His fumbles in the 2012 campaign hurt him badly across the nation and in his home state. A Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll taken last month shows Lone Star State Republicans prefer U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for their party’s presidential nomination in 2016. Despite being in office since December 2000 -- making him the longest serving governor in Texas history -- Perry placed fourth with Texas Republicans among possible presidential candidates. Now that he is leaving Austin, Perry may not be able to raise funds like he has in the past.
If Perry is to have any hope for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, he will have to build a coalition of social and economic conservatives, rebuild his national image and be able to withstand attacks from other candidates and being the butt of late-night jokes.
It’s a tough task to be sure but Perry does have some impressive victories under his belt, including demolishing then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in what was expected to be a tough gubernatorial primary. Perry can take a first step by rallying conservatives to his banner and speaking at AFP’s event which gives him the opportunity to do just that.
Perry joins three other possible presidential candidates -- fellow Texas Republican Cruz, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana -- who will be speaking at the AFP event. Other speakers include U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.