Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the first one to poke fun at himself for his 2012 "presidential flameout," writes National Journal
reporter Michelle Cottle, but is working overtime to rehab his image and learn from his mistakes so that he can win over critics in 2016.
He has put in long hours and racked up miles cross-crossing the country on a "Texas victory tour" where he extols the Lone Star State’s thriving economy and invites businesses to relocate there to take advantage of "low taxes, a regulatory policy that is fair and predictable, a legal system that does not allow for over-suing, and accountable public schools."
Having previously cast himself as a "conservative firebrand," Perry has softened his message to set himself apart from the headline-hijacking tea party faction of his party, people like Ted Cruz —the junior senator from Texas who has become Perry’s arch nemesis — as well as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and others who are "sucking up all the oxygen on the right," according to Cottle.
"Forget the wild-eyed cowboy squawking about how Texas might be forced to secede from the union," she writes. "Today's Perry is pitching himself as a thoughtful, seasoned elder statesman."
Despite all the chatter, and ribbing, about the cerebral-looking spectacles he now sports, a look Cottle characterizes as "serious, thoughtful" and "vaguely hipsterish," and trading his signature cowboy boots for loafers, Perry insists his new look is not a contrived reboot but a rather a necessity.
The glasses came about as a result of aging eyes and a high school eye injury that has affected his vision in one eye, and his signature cowboy boots — sidelined for loafers — are in retirement following back surgery, something he partially blames for his implosion during a 2011 debate when he forgot
one of the three federal agencies he pledged to eliminate should he be elected president (Commerce, Education and the Environmental Protection Agency).
He said he was ill prepared for a presidential run the last time and says he would be wiser this time around.
"I learned two very good, humbling, frustrating lessons," he told the National Journal. "One is that you need to be fit — and major back surgery did not allow me to be fit, physically or mentally. And the other is preparation. I don't care how many times you have been elected governor of Texas. You cannot parachute into the process of being vetted for the nomination for the Republican Party without proper preparation. It is a long and arduous task."
He possesses the executive experience to occupy the oval office, he told the Journal, and has a track record of creating an environment conducive to job growth and a prosperous economy.
"I think we've seen a president who's inexperienced being an executive," he said. "[Barack Obama] has never been an executive of anything. He was in the Illinois state Senate and the U.S. Senate long enough to find out where bathrooms are, but not long enough to really know how process works. I don't think they want to take a chance on another Barack Obama."
He makes regular appearance in blue states to highlight Texas’s thriving economy, has trekked internationally to places such as Jerusalem, London and Davos, and has spent time boning up on policy with a variety of think tanks, according to the Journal. Unlike 2012, he is shying away from social issues, saying that politicians from both sides of the aisle need to be focused on "putting Americans back to work."
But Perry will have to overcome disappointed financial backers who filled his coffers in 2012, an uphill battle, according to Cottle.
Everyone agrees that "the governor will need to start looking like a winner before the spigot opens up," according to the Journal.
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