After several months of maintaining a scholarly schedule of meetings with domestic and foreign policy experts, Rick Perry will now begin the process of formulating the policy proposals on which he can campaign, reports The Wall Street Journal.
One issue at the top of Perry's agenda will be how to energize the economic recovery, particularly proposals geared toward increasing middle class wages and addressing the low workforce participation rate, says Perry's issues director, Abby McCloskey.
"His goal is to make sure we have an economy that’s growing and one where everyone can share in gains," says McCloskey, who recently worked as an economic analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Since announcing that he was considering a run for the presidency in 2016, Perry has met with more than 50 policy experts and specialists for informal briefings on both domestic and foreign policy issues.
"Basically, what he wanted to do was talk about everything. It was really intriguing to me.... He’s making a massive personal investment in federal economic policy and other issues, too," said one of McCloskey's former colleagues at AEI, Kevin Hassett, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal
Hassett, who serves as AEI's director of economic-policy studies, was an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain.
"It wasn’t just for show. He was serious to try to learn and I think that’s commendable for a guy like him who, obviously, had some missteps in that area," a Republican policy expert who briefed Perry told Politico.
Perry says the briefings are part of the reason why he, as a governor, has the foreign policy experience to serve as commander-in-chief.
"Well, spending the time studying, being prepared, working with folks at the Hoover Institute, sitting at the table with George Shultz and Henry Kissinger over the last two years. My trips as governor on trade missions and also addressing these major issues that are important to the United States from a foreign policy standpoint have all really helped prepare me to be able to sit at the table and discuss with great detail the issues that are important to America," he told The Boston Herald in an interview published Thursday.
One of the reasons for the briefings, some of which have lasted for hours, is that Perry is mindful of the damage done to his 2012 campaign by well-publicized gaffes, including drawing a blank during one debate when asked the three federal agencies he would abolish.
Perry has not shied away from the image, telling The Washington Post
that in 2016 he would be "a substantially different, versed candidate."
"He’s substantially more prepared. Obviously that experience [of the 2012 campaign] is something he never wants to repeat," says McCloskey, who adds that Perry receives background information prior to his meetings so that the discussions are more free-flowing in nature.
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