June 4, 2015
By Jonathan Tilove

12:41 p.m. update: Sounding themes of perseverance and second chances, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president Thursday.

“Each day Americans demonstrate tremendous courage. But many of those Americans have been knocked down and are looking for a second chance,” Perry said at the close of his speech, delivered in a hangar at Addison Airport just outside Dallas. “Let’s give them that chance. Let’s give them real leadership. Let’s give them a future greater than the greatest days of our past. Let’s give them a president who leads us in the direction of our highest hopes, our best dreams and our greatest promise.”

Perry sought to make the case that would be that president, a tested leader — unlike President Obama, who Perry said came to the White House having led nothing — and, by implication, unlike his campaign rivals in the U.S. Senate, including Ted Cruz of Texas, who have no executive experience.

“The question of every candidate will be this one: when have you led? Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.” Perry said. “And we will not find the kind of leadership needed to revitalize the country by looking to the political class in Washington.”

But, Perry said, rising from the most humble surroundings in Paint Creek, “I have been tested. I have led the most successful state in America. I have dealt with crisis after crisis – from the disintegration of a space shuttle, to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, to the crisis at the border, and the first diagnosis of Ebola in America.”

“I have brought together first responders, charities and people of faith to house and heal vulnerable citizens dealing with tragedy,” Perry said. “The spirit of compassion demonstrated by Texans is alive all across America today. While we have experienced a deficit in leadership, among the American People there is a surplus of spirit.”

His administration, he said, would be one that would return power to the states and to the people.

10:48 a.m. update: Everything about former Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement for president is intended to present to the American people the image of a man who served his country in the U.S. military, which distinguishes him from all but one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

Perry is announcing his candidacy for president in a hangar at Addison Airport outside Dallas. He will speaking in front of a C-130 transport, the type of plane he piloted while serving as a captain in the Air Force, flying missions in Europe and the Middle East from 1972 to 1977. The plane now bears the Perry campaign logo and “Perry for President.”

Perry has emerged as the hawkish voice on military and foreign affairs and has pointed to his service as an important credential. The only other contender to have served is U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who is even more of a long shot than Perry.

Graham recently announced he was retiring from the Air Force Reserve, effective June 1, after serving more than 30 years in the Air Force.

President Obama never served in the military. George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard was a source of some controversy. Bill Clinton famously managed to avoid being drafted. His predecessor, George H.W. Bush, was a Navy aviator during World War II, flying 58 combat missions, winning the Distinguished Service Cross and three Air Medals.

Scheduled to join Perry on stage for his announcement were a group of retired Marines and Navy SEALS and family, including retired U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Lutrell, author of “Lone Survivor,” and Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle, the “American Sniper.”

Throughout his career, Perry has had a dashing fly-boy image, though, as he has thrown himself into studying the issues, foreign and domestic over the course of the last year, he began wearing a pair of hip, intellectual black-frame glasses that have become his new signature image.

On Saturday, he will be joined in Iowa, the first caucus state, by the military heroes flanking him at today’s announcement for a Ride with Rick motorcyle event that will raise money for a foundation that provides service dogs to wounded veterans.

Earlier: Former Gov. Rick Perry will announce he is running for the Republican nomination for president later this morning in Addison, entering a crowded and talented field well back in the pack.

But Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, enters the race in better health and far better prepared for the endeavor than in his short-lived campaign for the 2012 nomination, which is best remembered for the “oops” moment at a presidential debate when he couldn’t remember the name of the third federal agency he had vowed to eliminate.

Perry devoted the end of his tenure as governor, and the months since leaving office, in intensive preparation for this second bid for the White House, boning up on everything from monetary to foreign policy, and spending a lot of time in one-on-one campaigning in the early primary states, especially Iowa where he hopes his proven skills as a retail campaigner and his rural West Texas background will resonate with caucus voters.

According to the most recent Real Clear Politics polling average, Perry ranks tenth in the field of candidates, at 2.7 percent support, which places him right on the cusp of eligibility to participate in the first Republican candidate debate on Fox News Aug. 6 in Cleveland, which will be limited to the top ten candidates in national polls.

The last time he ran, Perry was dogged by the pain and sleeplessness of his recovery from back surgery.

This time, Perry is feeling good mentally and physically, but he remains under indictment in a Travis County court alleging he misused his position and abused his authority as governor. His lawyers have asked filed four motions to dismiss the case, the most recent in February, and Republican Judge Bert Richardson has denied two of those motions and two are pending. Perry’s lawyers appealed one of those decisions to the all-Republican 3rd Court of Appeals in Feburary, but it has yet to rule.

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