Opinion Columns & Blogs

ERICKSON: Rick Perry enters the arena

Yesterday in Dallas, Texas, former Gov. Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. It is his second time. Last time, Perry’s announced at the RedState gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, in August 2011 and surged quickly in the field to first place with almost a third of the Republican primary voters ready to back him. But several bad debate performances marginalized his candidacy. He departed the stage with an “oops.”

Of the candidates who ran in prior years who are running this time, Perry unquestionably deserves a second look. First, in 2012, he was running six weeks after back surgery and doing his best to avoid pain killers. It affected his performance and he knows it. Few Americans actually knew that, though. The campaign did not broadcast the fact. Second, he has been the longest serving governor of the second largest state, which also has the second highest number of electoral college votes in the nation.

Then there is reason 457,900. That is the number of jobs added to Texas in 2014 -- the most jobs ever created in Texas, and it happened while Perry was governor.

Then there is reason 252,400, which was the number of jobs Texas created in 2013. Like in 2014, Texas led the nation in job creation that year, too.

And then there is reason 1,500,000. That’s the number of jobs created in Texas from the start of the recession in 2007 until the end of 2013. During the same time, the other 49 states combined lost 400,000 jobs.

Needless to say, much of the credit Barack Obama has taken for any economic success actually belongs to Rick Perry. That is objectively a fact. It is so much a fact that in 2012 the left spilled massive amounts of digital and printers ink to claim Perry had nothing to do with Texas’s success, it was all a fluke, and Texas was really terrible.

During Perry’s tenure in Texas, he has personally lobbied businesses around the world to set up shop there and done so very successfully. When President Obama would not seal the border with Mexico, Perry ordered Texas’s National Guard to do it. And importantly for the establishment, Perry has built lasting relationships with the Hispanic community in Texas. Oh, and unlike Hillary Clinton, Perry speaks Spanish.

For some, there is one other reason to support Perry. He and Lindsey Graham are set to be the only two presidential candidates of either party to have served in the military. Perry served for five years in the Air Force. He was a captain in the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron.

The downside for Perry is his 2012 performance, not his record. He is going to have to overcome that and convince voters he is not another gaffe prone Texan like George W. Bush. The media is going to play up every little mistake he makes, as will his opponents.

Perry also has a potential fundraising problem out of the gate. He is competing for donors in Texas with Ted Cruz. Nationally, there are a slew of fresh faces out there taking in lots of money. Perry also needs to make it to the debate stage. Despite his record and tenure in Texas, at present polling he barely crosses the threshold to be on stage at the first debate hosted by Fox News.

He has 1.5 million reasons that set him apart from the pack, but it is to be seen if all those reasons can overcome a few debate performances from 2012.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.