Republican Rick Perry may not be running for a fourth term as Texas governor, but that doesn’t mean his future in electoral politics is over.
While his 2012 White House bid didn’t go as he had hoped, 2016 could offer a new opportunity, and the Lone Star State’s longest serving governor shouldn’t be counted out again.
Perry’s Monday announcement that he won’t run for re-election had all the pomp to set up a future campaign, though he remained coy about any 2016 decision. But without having to focus on his full-time responsibilities, Perry’s badly rolled out presidential campaign of 2012 could play out differently next time.
“It kind of clears the way for him to get serious, to study up on some of the issues he stumbled on last time,” said USA Today’s Susan Page on the Daily Rundown. “I think you have to take him seriously.”
Republican admaker Kim Alfano said while Perry may have stumbled in his first national run, that doesn’t mean he can’t get a second chance. And his political, not personal, mistakes were far less serious than other figures who have lately been seeking redemption, such as New York politicians Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer.
“He’s got the skills. He just doesn’t have them honed yet. I think he’d be a formidable candidate,” Alfano said of Perry. “He makes a very attractive conservative candidate.”
Democratic pollster Fred Yang noted other politicians who have taken time off from office and remade their political image and had more successful second runs – such as former President Ronald Reagan.
“He wasn’t Ronald Reagan, former governor of California. He was Ronald Reagan, actor,” said Yang.
Another sign Perry’s eyeing a larger political future –after being hammered by eventual nominee Mitt Romney over immigration reform in the primary, Perry’s been conspicuously quiet over the ongoing debate on Washington over whether to allow a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Alfano said it’s a wise strategy, and the better angle for Perry is to bolster his conservative credentials, as he’s been doing, by championing a controversial 20-week abortion ban in a special session this week.
“I would stay away from that and jump on the abortion debate, and become the conservative candidate on that,” said Alfano. “It’s a good wedge issue for the primary.”