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Can Rick Perry win in 2016?

By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
July 9, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Longest-serving Texas governor announced this week he would not seek re-election
  • Decision opens speculation that Perry might seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination
  • Perry has had a strong political run, but presidential bid last time out was a flop
  • Competition could be tougher, too, if GOP stars like Rubio, Christie jump into race

(CNN) -- Rick Perry's announcement that he won't run for an unprecedented fourth term as Texas governor next year increases already rampant speculation that he'll launch another bid for the White House in 2016.

Considering how the Republican's 2012 campaign faltered, there's plenty of skepticism about the viability of a possible second presidential run.

Perry: 2016 'certainly an option'

The longest-serving governor in Texas history didn't reveal much about his political future as he announced on Monday that he wouldn't seek re-election.

"I will also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path," Perry told friends and supporters at an event in San Antonio.

He added that "any future considerations I will announce in due time and I will arrive at that decision appropriately."

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CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta asked Perry after the event about his plans for time off.

"No time off, man," Perry replied.

He acknowledged on Fox News Sunday -- the day before his announcement -- that he is keeping his eye on the next presidential campaign calendar, saying that is "certainly, that's an option."

Perry advisers also are not shooting down suggestions that the governor is aiming for the Oval Office.

The ill-fated 2012 run is the only black mark on a successful 30-year career in politics.

Can Perry overcome his last presidential run?

He officially jumped into the race the previous August, later than the rest of the Republican field and announced his candidacy the same day of the GOP's Iowa straw poll in Ames, won by Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The best days of his campaign were the first ones, when he quickly topped polls for the Republican nomination. But the effort soon swooned due to weak debate performances and gaffes.

Perrry's most damaging episode was the "oops" moment at a Michigan debate when he couldn't remember the third federal agency he pledged to eliminate if elected president.

"He was supposed to be the conservative coming in from Texas, the new Ronald Reagan. He bombed in the debates, and I'm being kind when I say he bombed in the debates," said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

Perry continued to fade and posted distant finishes in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. He suspended his bid in mid-January, prior to the South Carolina primary.

If Perry couldn't handle competitors like Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and other candidates in what was considered a weak Republican field last time out, would he fare any better in 2016?

The roster could be stronger if Republican stars like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker jump in.

But if he runs, Perry would presumably enter the race at a much earlier date and wouldn't be fighting high expectations, which were placed on his candidacy from the start last time.

He can also cite history.

"I would remind you of this: Ronald Reagan ran more than once; John McCain ran more than once to get the nomination, Mitt Romney ran more than once to get the nomination. There's still a conservative base of the Republican Party that likes Rick Perry," King said. "Would he need to do a hell of a lot better if he ran again? Yes. But should you rule it out completely? No."

Republican strategist and CNN contributor Kevin Madden also said experience matters.

"There's nothing that helps a candidate run and win a nomination like the experience of having run and lost a nomination. The benefit of experience for candidates that have gone through the brutality of the process is a crucial advantage. That knowledge of what went right and what didn't could serve Rick Perry well this time around," said Madden.

Madden was a top adviser and spokesman in Romney's unsuccessful bid for the 2008 GOP nomination, and the 2012 edition, in which Romney captured the nomination before losing the President Barack Obama last November.

He said Romney's campaign leadership took Perry seriously since he could raise money and would make a splash entering a fluid competition for the nomination.

"But he was destined to fade. The entire campaign had the feeling of being thrown together at the last minute. You simply cannot just waltz into a presidential campaign and win without painstakingly planning it out well in advance," Madden said.

If Perry runs again, his first big test with Republican voters would be in Iowa, where the caucuses traditionally kick off the presidential nominating calendar for voters.

Matt Strawn knows something about Iowa politics. He served as the state's Republican party chairman in the last presidential cycle.

"With a wide open GOP nomination contest and an unsettled a GOP electorate, it would be foolish to write off a candidate with Governor Perry's record of economic success," Strawn told CNN.

"Americans love a comeback story. And a successful Perry presidential campaign would certainly be that," added Strawn.

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