Rick Perry may be saying goodbye to his position as Texas’s longest-serving governor – but he certainly seems to be leaving the door open to saying hello to another presidential run in 2016.
The Republican delivered a farewell speech to the state legislature Thursday afternoon that called for bipartisanship and criticized dysfunction in Washington – themes Perry is likely to capitalize on should he run for the nation’s highest office.
“There is not a single accomplishment I have spoken of today that occurred without bipartisan support,” said Perry, who is ending a 14-year tenure as head of the state. “I believe we are at our best when we get beyond our differences and attempt to seek common ground.”
He also criticized “America’s refusal to secure the border,” President Obama’s stalled decision of the Keystone XL pipeline, and Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fracking ban – issues that would play well with the Republican base in the lead-up to 2016. Perry lauded his record overseeing a state with a lower unemployment rate than the national average, addressing budget shortfalls without raising taxes and creating programs for drug addicts through bipartisanship.
In five days, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will take over as the Lone Star state’s chief executive. Perry said he would not seek re-election back in the summer of 2013, generating buzz that he would try again to run for the White House. Perry has previously said he’d make a final decision by May or June.
Perry isn’t the only governor who is seemingly testing out potential 2016 themes in front of state audiences. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivered his annual "state of the state" address – a speech that was filled with national innuendo—earlier this week. During his remarks, Christie criticized a “bloated national government,” called for both a “New Jersey and an American renewal” and spoke of his recent travels across the country. Similarly, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his state address also urged for smaller government and fewer D.C. regulations on businesses.
Perry would have several obstacles to overcome should he run for president, including facing off in a potentially crowded field, not to mention his 2014 criminal indictment – and pending court case -- on two felony charges involving the forced resignation of a Democratic district attorney. Perry has insisted his actions were justified under the governor’s constitutional authority.
Perry would also have to turn the page on his failed 2012 presidential bid, perhaps remembered most for his “oops” debate moment when he forgot the name of the third federal agency he wanted to get rid of. Perry told msnbc's Kasie Hunt last month, “I think over the course of the last two years, people, you know, they realize that what they saw in 2011 is certainly not the person they’re looking at in 2013, 2014, 2015.”
During his remarks Thursday, Perry at one point told a personal story about his unlikely rise to governor.
“In Texas it’s not where you come from that matters, it’s where you are going. The most vivid dreams take flight from the most humble beginnings. And so it was for me,” he said. “As many of you know, I grew up in a place called Paint Creek. When I was young, we didn’t have electricity or running water. Mom bathed us in a number two washtub. And we attended the Paint Creek Rural School, where some of the teachers lived on campus. Their profession was literally their life, and they inspired me. But they also have a motto at the Paint Creek School that summarizes the endless possibilities for its students: 'No dream too tall for a school so small.'"