On Thursday, July 11, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced to the Washington Times that he intends to take a trip to Israel this upcoming October. Three days earlier on Monday June 8, Perry announced he will not seek a full forth term as governor in 2014. The joint announcements this week are increasing speculation that Perry intends to make a second run for the presidency in 2016.
Speaking during a Washington Times interview Perry announced that he plans to visit Israel in Oct. 2013 for an educational forum stating; “We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum.” Perry believes “Investing our treasure in educational operations will go more toward creating peace than any military foray.” This announcement just seems to the many as the next steps in his plans to make another run for the White House.
Every Republican presidential hopeful in recent history has made a trip to Israel a priority. Israel is a close ally to the United States, and the only democracy in the contentious Middle East and the Israel trip is method for candidates to burnish their foreign policy and national security credentials. The Israel trip has become a rite of passage for any potential Republican presidential candidate.
Other Republicans considering a Presidential run have already made their pilgrimage to Israel including, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and the senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.
In the 2012 campaign Perry came out as a fierce supporter of Israel, but his presidential bid was too rushed and he did not have the opportunity to make a trip to Israel during the 2012 campaign cycle, although he has visited Israel a number of times. He notably defended Israel and heavily criticized President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies as one of appeasement towards Palestinians at the Israel-Palestine Press Conference in September 2011. Perry had also written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that same month calling on the United States to defend Israel at the United Nations, and attended a major Israel rally in New York in September 2011.
The speculation began Monday morning July 8, when Perry stated he intended to make an announcement about “exciting future plans” concerning his political future. Most presumed he will announce whether he plans to run again for a fourth term as governor.
Perry spoke at the Holt Cat, Caterpillar equipment dealership in San Antonio. The dealership is the country’s largest, a testament to Perry’s ability as governor to attract major businesses to Texas due to low taxes, and a symbol of his success with the Texan economy.
Perry spent the majority of the speech recounting his achievements and accomplishments as Texas governor during his three terms in office. Towards the middle of the speech Perry made the announcement about his plans for re-election stating; “I remain excited about the future, and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership. Today I am announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas.”
Governor Perry spent the remainder of the speech discussing his plans for the Texas in the remaining 18 months he will serve as governor until his term expires in January 2015, after the 2014 midterm elections.
Perry did not announce what he was planning to do after completing his term as governor only stating he “will also pray, reflect and work to determine my own future path.” He concluded with a statement implying he might be considering a second presidential run; “Any future considerations I will announce in due time, as I arrive at any decisions. But my focus will remain on Texas.”
The announcement that he would not seek another term was not that much of a surprise. He was facing a primary fight from Greg Abbott, the Attorney General. Although he was still leading in the double digits, but his lead had been shrinking.
The general reaction in Texas to his announcement has been that Perry made the “best decision for Texas” according to an editorial from the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
However, his announcement also fueled speculation he is considering a second run for president in the 2016 campaign. Many think he will make any announcement regarding a presidential run by the end of the year, making him one the earlier candidates to declare their interest. Perry reiterates in his Washington Times interview that he has “plenty of time to make that decision.”
Based on his past performance in 2012, Perry would need to plan out any potential run more carefully with more time in advance; completing his governorship in January 2015 will give him the time he needs to devote himself to a campaign.
Perry is Texas longest serving governor; he was the lieutenant governor and took over as governor when George W. Bush resigned in Dec. 2000 after winning the Presidency. He presided over a conservative agenda while governor in a state where Republicans have led since 1994 when George W. Bush was elected as governor.
Perry led the state’s economy successfully throughout the national economic crisis. While there was a job crisis’s throughout the nation, Texas saw their economy and jobs grow. Perry stated in his retirement announcement about Texas’s economic success that; “We have created the strongest economy in the nation…. It’s not just low taxes and business-friendly regulations…. 30 percent of all jobs created in the last decade, in all of America, were created in Texas, which has less than 10 percent of the population.”
However, most nationwide remember Perry for his many errors in the 2012 pre-primary season, and his lackluster performances during the many Republican primary debates. Even Perry in a Gridiron Club dinner speech acknowledged this; “The weakest Republican field in history – and they kicked my butt.”
In August 2011, Perry made a rushed announcement that he would run for the Republican candidacy for President, the last of large field of candidates to jump into the race. At the same time he entered the race he was battling back pain, a health issue that had him on painkillers and prevented him from more widely touring the country during his brief campaign. His lack of pre-planning and strategizing coupled with his having to continue to perform his duties as governor led to unpreparedness during the campaign.
He was considered a serious contender when he announced his candidacy on August 13, 2011; however, his performance in the Republican debates eroded his early leads in the polls.
He was particularly unprepared for the rigors of the numerous Republican debates, and his most remembered moment was a gaffe in a one of the debates.
The widely recalled and mocked “oops” moment occurred on November 11, 2011 during the CNBC ‘Your Money, Your Vote’ Republican Presidential Debate when Perry could not remember the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate as president. Perry infamously and memorably stated; “I would do away with the Education, the Commerce and – let’s see – I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
Perry withdrew from the Republican race on January 19, 2012 after a poor showing in the Iowa Caucus, and prior to the South Carolina primary, where he was trailing in the polls.
Surprisingly in the 2012 campaign, Perry came out stronger in foreign policy and national security issues, than domestic policy, despite his long tenure as governor of a state that had the strongest job growth while the rest of the country was struggling economically. Perry apparently intends to start bolstering his foreign policy credentials with this upcoming trip to Israel.
To be a viable candidate in 2016, Perry will have to make himself known nationally more for his successful record as governor than his few gaffes in the 2012 campaign. If Perry intends to run again for President in 2016, he needs to start planning his strategy early and his trip to Israel this fall definitely is a step in the right direction.
- Full Text: Governor Rick Perry’s July 8th Announcement Speech
- Office of the Governor – Rick Perry
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & International politics.