Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry adjusts his tie as he listens to his introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 24, 2015.
Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

Rick Perry’s second chance to make a first impression

There was actually a point at which Rick Perry was a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. It was August 2011.
At the time, party activists and officials realized that Mitt Romney was well on his way towards dispatching weak rivals, but there were widespread fears that he would struggle in a national race. The then-Texas governor rode in on a white horse to rescue his party and very quickly took the lead.
Perry’s support eroded quite quickly. Most remember his “oops” moment from November 2011, but the truth remains that the Texas Republican’s campaign was already faltering. His first day as a candidate was a disaster, and the weeks that followed were no better. The more voters saw of him, the more Perry’s support evaporated.
Four years later, Perry believes he’s ready to be a far better candidate the second time around. MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt reported today:
Now Perry is set to announce a second – and this time, long-shot – bid for president. He’ll do so on Thursday from his home state of Texas, where he’ll stand in front of an enormous airplane emblazoned with “Perry for President.” Joining him is Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL made famous in the movie “Lone Survivor,” and by the widow of Chris Kyle, the focus of the film “American Sniper.” It’s all aimed at highlighting Perry’s military experience – he served in the Air Force – at a time when foreign policy is at the forefront of the campaign.
Perry will also focus on his economic record as Texas governor; he says he created 1.8 million new jobs during his tenure. They’re themes he’s also been emphasizing on the campaign trail in recent months, especially in New Hampshire, where veterans are a key voting bloc.
Whereas Perry entered the 2012 race as a savior candidate, the Texan enters this year as an afterthought. Despite being well known to Republicans, Perry’s national support is hovering below 3%, which may be enough to qualify for debate participation – though it’ll be close. Perry’s not even especially popular in Texas, where’s he’s running a distant fifth in a state he led for over a decade.
There’s also the matter of the felony charges pending against him.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, Perry will become the first presidential contender to launch a campaign while under criminal indictment on corruption charge. Last summer, as regular readers no doubt recall, Perry was charged with two felony counts – the former governor faces the potential of jail time – which generally doesn’t help presidential candidates get ahead in a crowded field.
There’s also Perry’s challenge overcoming his often bizarre ideological radicalism. ThinkProgress pulled together several examples of “completely bonkers things” Perry believes about constitutional law – the list didn’t even include his flirtation with secession – and the Democratic National Committee followed up with a similar list of its own, noting Perry’s opposition to the federal minimum wage and Social Security, among other things.
But even if we put aside the pending criminal charges, the weak support, and the radical governing vision, Perry’s biggest problem may be the perception that he’s just not a serious person. When Kasie Hunt asked the Texas Republican late last year, “Are you smart enough to be president of the United States?” the obvious answer should have been something along the lines of, “Of course I’m smart enough.”
Instead, Perry replied, “Running for the presidency’s not an IQ test.”
It’s safe to say the Texas Republican faces long odds of success.

Rick Perry and Texas

Rick Perry's second chance to make a first impression