DES MOINES, Iowa -- For the first time since finishing fifth in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) returned to the state that was the beginning of the end of his initial presidential endeavor, reintroducing himself to Iowans and vowing to do things differently if he were to run again.
“If I was making a plan for 2016, coming to Iowa early and often would be part of it. But as I shared, that is a bit premature,” Perry told reporters following a luncheon with Americans for Prosperity members.
Perry added, “I am the governor of Texas through January of 2015, so there are 14 more months of governing.”
Last time round, Perry failed to visit the first-in-the-nation caucus state early. He announced his bid for the White House in South Carolina -- on the exact same day as the Iowa GOP Straw Poll after all other candidates had been in the state for weeks.
Thursday’s appearance in the Hawkeye State was the start of a new beginning for Perry. “While other candidates may be getting their sea legs with these initial visits, Gov. Perry is a known commodity and -- most importantly -- has a strong record of job creation that will attract Iowans to a potential Perry presidential campaign,” said caucus veteran Tim Albrecht, who serves as Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s spokesman.
Later keynoting the Polk County GOP Robb Kelley Fall Dinner Thursday night, Perry focused on his gubernatorial and business roots. His biggest suggestion to help get American back on track: ““Get out of the health-care business, get out of the education business, stop hammering our industry –- let the sleeping giant of American industry create prosperity again. That is the code that we have to put into place.”
More than 400 Iowans turned out to hear the retiring Republican governor speak. He attacked President Barack Obama’s health-care law and website. “It is amazing to me that the Obama administration is capable of barricading a war memorial despite government being shut down, but they can't operate a website when it gets up and running,” Perry said referencing the government shutdown earlier this fall.
At one point, Perry drew laughs from the crowd when he compared his famous “oops” moment during the 2012 campaign to the failure in government today. “Our leaders have forgotten how to govern. Believe me, I know a few things about forgettin,’” the governor joked.
Thursday night’s appearance is another in a slew of visits by potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates to the first-in-the-nation caucus state -- such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan will visit the state next Saturday as well.
Perry, who avoided any talk of his future during his nearly 15-minute speech, understands 2016 speculation is all par for the course. “I don’t think its too early; I think its part of the process. They are going to ask their questions, and we are going to give our answers. Its too early for me to be making any decisions about 2016. I still have 14 months of governing in Texas,” he said.
First published November 7 2013, 7:31 PM