Being prepared is key to win, says Perry during Manchester visit
By DOUG ALDEN New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER - Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking a more thoughtful, calculated approach to a potential presidential run in 2016.
Brief as his 2012 campaign was, Perry said he learned a lot about the commitment necessary to make a serious bid for the nation's highest office.
"It was frustrating and humbling," Perry said Friday during an interview at the offices of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Perry's visit included stops throughout the Granite State on Friday and Saturday, when Perry made it clear he is considering another presidential run and is not overly concerned about the potential ramifications recent felony charges in Texas could bring to a campaign.
Perry has called the charges of abuse of power baseless and pleaded not guilty. He was confident enough he will beat the case to travel as scheduled on a two-day swing through New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
There will likely be more as Perry considers whether to run again, knowing now the impact New Hampshire's primary and the Iowa Caucuses can have on a campaign.
"You've got to spend time in those states and I didn't," said Perry, whose third term as Texas' governor expires in January.
Perry has held the office since George W. Bush resigned for the U.S. presidency in 2000. He is not running for a fourth term in Texas and said he still remains uncertain about another presidential bid.
Perry has plenty of time to consider. In the meantime, he vowed not to make the mistakes that cost him in 2012 and is getting to know the folks in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina while carefully taking time to study and better understand global issues.
Perry was a late entry in the previous GOP race and his whirlwind campaign was a short one, starting with his official announcement on Aug. 13, 2011, and ending after a sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary in January 2012.
Perry entered a crowded field of GOP candidates and immediately was among the frontrunners.
"That short time we were on top, it was three of the most exhilarating hours of my life," Perry said.
Perry showed a sense of humor in looking back at his failed bid as well as the pending charges against him in Texas, where his lawyer appeared on his behalf Friday while Perry was in New Hampshire. Perry dropped another one-liner during his remarks at the Americans for Posperity Foundation dinner later Friday in Manchester.
"You might have heard a little news about me last week," Perry said.
Not afraid to joke about his own predicament, Perry also made it clear he is quite serious about taking the time to consider a 2016 campaign.
Should he decide to run again, Perry said he will have an established base of support in early states like New Hampshire by taking the time to meet the people.
"I don't care how many times you've been elected," Perry said. "To give myself that option, I have to be prepared."
Perry also vowed to be better prepared for debates, which he struggled through with some embarrassing moments that quickly knocked him from contention.
Perry finished fifth in the Iowa Caucuses, then sixth in New Hampshire and suspended the campaign not long after.
"You have to be healthy - both physically and mentally," said Perry, who was recovering from back surgery three years ago. "I was neither."
Perry spoke on a wide-range of issues, including economic recovery in Texas and immigration reform. He noted his highly publicized decision in July declining an invitation to greet President Obama after Air Force One landed in Dallas.
While the "snub" - viewed by some as a sign of leadership and others as disrespect - got most of the attention, Perry noted the content of his message to the president was that "a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion" needed to resolve such a serious matter.
Perry said his response prompted the White House to reconsider and led to a face-to-face meeting, when Perry said he enlightened Obama on a few facts about border security.
"I know what's coming across our border," Perry said.