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Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry launches comeback presidential campaign

"2016 will not be an election about lofty rhetoric, it's going to be about a record of leadership," Perry said.

By Andrew V. Pestano
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry launches comeback presidential campaign
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is launching a comeback campaign for the White House as a Republican candidate. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

DALLAS, June 4 (UPI) -- Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday that he will run again for president of the United States.

Perry made the announcement on his website and will formally launch the campaign for the Republican nomination at an event later in the day at Addison Airport in Dallas County.

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Perry, who served as governor for 14 years, launched an unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2012. He had been viewed as a top contender before a series of public gaffes led him to withdraw from the race.

Along with a new website, Perry, 65, released a video announcing his presidential hopes.

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"Under my leadership in Texas, we had 14 years of balanced budgets without ever skipping a debt payment, passed the largest tax cut in state history and created nearly one-third of all the new jobs in this country," Perry says in the video. "And if I run, I'm going to put my record up against any competitor out there."

Critics and some economists argue that Perry takes too much credit for the positive performance of Texas during his governorship, stating macro-economic forces, including an oil boom, were not under his control.

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"2016 will not be an election about lofty rhetoric, it's going to be about a record of leadership," Perry says in the video. "It's going to be a 'show me, don't tell me' election where voters will look past what you say to what you've done."

Perry's political gaffes in the previous election include his failure during a debate to recall the name of one of three federal agencies he said he would eliminate if elected.

After a speech in New Hampshire, attendees publicly wondered if the former governor had been drinking.

Despite Perry's political downfall in 2012, his return to the presidential scene is seen by some as a promising comeback. He has worked to improve his political prowess and to reshape his image. He's no longer wearing cowboy boots, for example.

"He has focused like a laser beam on the task of running for president in 2016 almost since he dropped out of the race," Deirdre Delisi, a former chief of staff to Perry and policy director for his 2012 campaign, told The New York Times. "He has really benefited from using the time in between the last cycle and this cycle, and getting himself more comfortable to be on the national stage."

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Perry, who served five years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, will be joined by military veterans, including several Navy SEALs, during his campaign launch.

Taya Kyle, widow of Chris Kyle, the subject of the film American Sniper," is also expected to attend.

"I got to know Rick and Anita Perry outside of the public eye, where I've had an up-close view of their humility and commitment to doing the right thing for people, regardless of who gets the credit," Kyle wrote in an email to Perry supporters. "Believe me, they are a breath of fresh air in a political system full of people playing games and twisting the truth."

But Perry brings baggage to this campaign that could hurt his aspirations.

In August, a grand jury in Austin indicted him on two felony charges of abusing his official capacity and of coercing a public servant.

The case stems from allegations that Perry used his veto power as governor to pressure Rosemary Lehmberg, the Democratic district attorney in Austin's Travis County, to resign after she was arrested and charged with drunk driving.

Lehmberg refused to resign, against Perry's wishes, and Perry vetoed $7.5 million in state money for the public-corruption unit in Lehmberg's office.

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Perry and his lawyers deny wrongdoing, stating the veto was lawful and that the case against the former governor is politically motivated.

The special prosecutor in the case, Michael McCrum, argues that Perry crossed the line from hardball politics and took part into the criminal act of threatening an elected official. Lehmberg's term as district attorney will end in 2016.

For the Republican nomination for president, Perry faces a wide field of competitors.

North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; former HP CEO Carly Fiorina; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have announced campaigns.

For the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are in the running.

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