Looking to 2016, Perry road tests message
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Former Gov. Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' MORE (R-Texas) road tested his potential 2016 campaign message before a receptive conservative crowd in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, boasting about his record and showing off his policy chops.

In a speech hosted by the conservative American Principles Project, an animated Perry condemned the “Washington model” and said it was time for the nation to look for leadership from one of the country’s red states.

“Americans face a very important choice for the future,” Perry said. “Will we continue to follow the Washington model of reckless spending and taxes, job-killing regulations and a government that’s too big to work, or will we choose the red-state model that’s alive in my home state, where taxes are low, regulations are reasonable and opportunity is on the rise?”

“Last November, the American people issued a verdict on those issues loud and clear,” Perry continued. “Americans looked at [the Obama administration] and they said, resoundingly, ‘Enough. We’ve had it.’ ”

Perry is considering another run for the White House and says he’ll decide by May or June if he intends to run again.

On Thursday, he spoke at length about what kind of leadership the country needs and the attributes the next president should have.

“A congressional majority is a terrible thing to waste,” Perry said. “The power granted to Republicans by the people has to be used to serve people. It’s not good enough to say what we’re against; we must articulate what we’re for.

"Looking at 2016, we can’t be looking to elect a critic in chief, we have to elect a commander in chief,” he continued.

Perry argued that a conservative governor with executive branch experience is best equipped to lead.

“I’m skeptical that an agent of change can come from Washington,” he said.

Perry generated buzz ahead of his Washington visit by announcing he had signed on more than 80 major donors to serve on his leadership PAC’s advisory board.

It was a clear sign to other potential GOP contenders, and to donors and political operatives, that he’s serious about running and remains a formidable presence in the party.

Perry’s home state figures to play a central role in the Republican primaries, both as a fundraising hotbed and as a delegate-rich state in what’s expected to be a prolonged fight for the nomination.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is also considering a run for president. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also has close ties to Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul has made the Lone Star State a focus in the early stages of his campaign.

On Thursday, Perry boasted about his accomplishments as governor, which is likely to be a frequent touchstone for him if he takes the presidential plunge.

“I think it’s time we started thinking bigger,” Perry said on Thursday. “I happen to know we can unleash growth and opportunity and restore the American dream for the middle class, and I know it because it happened in the 13th largest economy in the world. It happened in my home state.”

Perry only left the governor’s mansion in Austin last month after 14 years in office. But he says he’s been preparing for another national campaign since he ended his 2012 run.

The former governor has admitted that he jumped into the 2012 race overestimating his political skills, and that his lack of preparation ultimately sunk his campaign.

Perry entered late in the 2012 Republican nominating process, announcing his candidacy when voters in Iowa were already casting ballots in their caucuses. 

He was a cash-raising machine and immediately shot to the top of a crowded GOP field but withdrew from the contest in early 2012 after a few gaffe-laden months.

Since then, he has impressed some Republicans with his polished presentation and firmer grasp on domestic and international issues, but many still wonder if he’ll ever live down the “oops” moment that defined his ill-fated 2012 run.

On Thursday, he tried to specify what he said were the many failures of the Obama administration at home and abroad.

Perry said, while Vladimir Putin was invading the Ukraine, “the president dithered,” and he accused Obama of abandoning Israel. He also bemoaned “the loss of American blood and treasure in places like Tikrit, Baghdad and Fallujah.”

And at home, he said Congress and the White House had abdicated their constitutional mandate to defend the border, and argued that Obama ignored separation of powers with his executive action on immigration.

“America is looking for a new path forward and beginning today, let’s give it to them,” Perry closed to a standing ovation

Still, other challenges remain for the former governor. A Texas judge decided last month not to dismiss the criminal case against him.

The charges stem from Perry telling a Travis County District Attorney that if she didn’t resign over a drunken driving arrest, he would veto funding to her office. She did not resign, and Perry followed through on his threat, which resulted in charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public official.

Perry has called the indictment politically motivated and says he wears it as a badge of honor.