A large crowd. A logo that looks like a presidential seal. A plane, stamped “PERRY FOR PRESIDENT.” A ten-gallon hat. Twins. God bless America, Rick Perry is running for president again.
Perry arrived in Addison, Texas, on Thursday to formally declare his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination—again.
After a tribute from his Precious Moments doll look-alike wife, Anita, Perry took to the lectern to discuss his humble beginnings in life, in a house with an outhouse and mother who sewed his own clothes until he reached adulthood. “I’ve seen American life,” Perry said. “I’ve seen it from the red dirt of a West Texas cotton field.”
As he spoke, Perry stood sandwiched between two large, bearded, sweating twins. Marcus and Morgan Luttrell are Navy SEALs, and Marcus is the author of Lone Survivor, which was turned into a film, released in 2013, starring Mark Wahlberg. Throughout Perry’s speech, the twins’ eyes darted around, and widened and squinted—it was very distracting!
Also accompanying Perry onstage was Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle.
Perry used his speech not to necessarily paint a vision of what America would look like with him in the Oval Office, but instead assured everyone listening that no matter what, Perry’s America would look nothing like Obama’s America.
“We are at the end of an era of failed leadership,” Perry said. “We have been led by a divider who has sliced and diced the electorate, pitting American against American for political purposes.”
Perry decried Obama’s foreign policy, particularly in Iraq. “No decision has done more harm than the president’s withdrawal of American troops from Iraq,” Perry said to hoots of “yeah!” from the crowd. Perry added, “Leaders of both parties have made grave mistakes in Iraq.”
That said, “we are a resilient country,” Perry said. “We’ve been through a Civil War, we’ve been through two World Wars, we’ve been through a Great Depression, we even made it through Jimmy Carter! We will make it through the Obama years!”
In a show of presidential levels of restraint, Perry did not laugh at his own joke.
Ahead of the event, Perry unveiled a campaign ad on his website. “We need a president who transcends the petty partisanship of the last few years,” he said. “Someone that’s been tested.”
The slickly produced video (which is, perhaps unintentionally, reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt in its editing) depicts all versions of Perry: the over-gelled politician, speaking at the lectern in a blue tie and black-rimmed glasses; the Man of the People, shaking hands with and hugging voters; the Texan, being sworn in as governor in 2000 and riding on a Texas Highway Patrol boat; and the American, in his Air Force regalia and saluting with troops.
Perry served as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, and memorably ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. That campaign was marked by Perry’s clumsy debate performances and his inability to make a convincing case to conservatives that he was right to defend Texas policy of permitting the children of illegal immigrants to benefit from in-state tuition.
Before he exited the governor’s office, in August 2014, Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of power and coercion, first- and third-degree felonies, respectively. Perry, who has kept a somewhat low profile since August, save for trips to conservative confabs and ice cream outings, continues to fight the indictment as he kicks off his campaign today.