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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry launches second bid for the White House

Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, touts his executive experience in campaign kickoff

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

texas mugADDISON, Texas (CFP) — Charging that Americans “are at the end of an era of failed leadership,” former Texas Governor Rick Perry launched his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination by touting his experience as the longest-serving governor in the history of the Lone Star State.

Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

“Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. And we will not find the kind of leadership needed to revitalize the country by looking to the political class in Washington,” Perry said at his campaign kickoff at an airport in Addison, a Dallas suburb.

“I have been tested. I have led the most successful state in America. I have dealt with crisis after crisis, from the disintegration of a space shuttle to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, to the crisis at the border and the first diagnosis of Ebola in America.”

Perry, 65, a former Air Force officer who was a cotton farmer in West Texas before getting into politics, left office in January after serving 14 years as governor. He began his political life in 1984 as a Democrat before switching the GOP in 1989, as it became ascendent in Texas politics.

In 2012, Perry unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination. He entered the campaign as one of the frontrunners, only to see his stock plummet after a series of of gaffes, including a moment in a debate when he could not remember the name of a federal agency he had previously pledged to abolish.

Perry — who later blamed his faltering 2012 performance on lack of preparation and the aftereffects of back surgery — did not mention his first campaign during his kickoff rally. But he did offer scathing criticism of President Barack Obama’s leadership.

“We have been led by a divider who has sliced and diced the electorate, pitting American against American for political purposes,” he said. “Weakness at home has led to weakness abroad. The world has descended into a chaos of this president’s own making, while his White House loyalists construct an alternative universe where ISIS is contained and Ramadi is merely a setback.”

Perry also decried what he called “the arrogance of Washington DC, representing itself as some beacon of wisdom, with policies smothering this vast land with no regard for what makes each state and community unique.”

He also sounded a note of economic populism, saying “it is time to create real jobs, to raise wages, to create opportunity for all, to give every citizen a stake in this country, to restore hope — real hope — to forgotten Americans, millions of middle class families who have given up hope of getting ahead.”

As he pursues the presidency, Perry is also battling felony charges of abuse of power and coercion brought by a prosecutor in Austin stemming from his veto, as governor, of $7.5 million in funding for a public integrity unit in the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

In April 2013, Lehmberg, a Democrat, was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, and video showed her being combative with the arresting officers. Perry demanded the Lehmberg resign and, when she didn’t, followed through with a threat to veto funding for the unit.

Perry has vowed to fight the charges, which he has dismissed as politically motivated.

Perry is one of eight Southern Republicans who have launched, or are expected to launch, presidential bids in 2016.

Those already in the race include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Also expected to enter the race are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida.

The Southern GOP field, then, is divided equally between senators and governors. Two of the last three Republicans elected president — George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan — served as governor. The last GOP senator elected to the presidency was Warren Harding in 1920.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas who went on to be elected to the Senate from New York.

Watch the video of Perry’s campaign kickoff:

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio giving up Senate seat to seek White House

Rubio, trying to become America’s first Latino president, kicks off 2016 campaign in Miami

florida mugMIAMI (CFP) — Charging that “our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake,” U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has kicked off his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

During an announcement rally in Miami April 13, the senator — at 43 one of the youngest potential candidates in the White House chase — framed the race as “a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.”

“While our people and economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century,” he said.

“They are busy looking backward, so they do not see how jobs and prosperity today depend on our ability to compete in a global economy. So our leaders put us at a disadvantage by taxing, borrowing and regulating like it’s 1999.”

Rubio also took a direct swipe at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — 24 years his senior — who announced Sunday that she would seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. But yesterday is over, and we are never going back.”

Rubio, the son of refugees from Cuba’s communist dictatorship, began his campaign symbolically at Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower, where Cuban immigrants to the United States were processed after arriving in the 1960s.

“Their story is part of the larger story of the American miracle — how, united by a common faith in their God given right to go as far as their talent and work would take them, a collection of immigrants and exiles, former slaves and refugees, became one people,” he said.

“For almost all of human history, power and wealth belonged only to a select few … But America is different. Here, we are the children and grandchildren of people who refused to accept this.”

If he wins the presidency, Rubio would be the first Latino, and the first Cuban-American, to be elected president. Another Cuban-American, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, is also seeking the GOP nomination.

But in deciding to seek the presidency, Rubio will give up what was considered a relatively safe Senate seat, triggering a wide-open race in the Sunshine State in 2016 that will present a possible pickup opportunity for Democrats.

Rubio opted not to try to simultaneously seek the presidency and re-election to the Senate, as one of his GOP presidential rivals, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, is doing in Kentucky.

The Florida senator will also likely be battling a fellow Floridian and political mentor, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is also expected to make a 2016 White House bid.

Rubio the former speaker of the Florida House, rode a wave of conservative and Tea Party support in 2010 to win a Senate seat, besting Florida’s sitting governor at the time, Charlie Crist. He quickly rose to national prominence and was mentioned as a vice presidential pick in 2012.

Rubio has also garnered headlines for his work on immigration reform, which has drawn the ire of the GOP’s small, but noisy, nativist wing. Opponents of immigration reform have also criticized Bush for much the same reason.

Rubio, Cruz, Paul and Bush are among nine Southerners — eight Republicans and one Democrat — considering a White House bid in 2016.

Among the other potential Southern GOP candidates are former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas who went on to be elected to the Senate from New York.

Watch Rubio’s announcement speech:

Poll: Among Southern White House contenders, Rubio viewed most favorably by GOP voters

Republican voters in Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll had the least favorable view of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

southern states smWASHINGTON (CFP) — A new poll finds that among the eight Southerners considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is viewed most favorably by Republican voters.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Fifty-six percent of Republican voters surveyed by in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they could see themselves supporting Rubio, while just 26 percent could not, a favorability gap of 30 points. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Not only was that the best showing among the potential Southern contenders, but it was better than every other expected candidate in the field except Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who had a favorability gap of 36 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 26 percent of Republican voters said they could see themselves supporting U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, while 51 percent — an outright majority — could not, an unfavorability gap of 31 points. However, 29 percent were still undecided about Graham.

The poll showed Republican voters may have largely made up their minds about three of the possible candidates in the race — former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. The percentage of undecided for all three was under 12 percent.

But substantial percentages of the GOP voters have not made up their minds about Graham, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, all of whom had undecided readings above 20 percent.

The margin of error in the poll, released March 11, was plus or minus 6.48 percentage points.

Here is how the other potential Southern candidates fared:

  • Huckabee: 52 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 8 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 12 points.
  • Bush: 49 percent could support, 42 percent could not support, 9 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 7 points.
  • Paul of Kentucky: 49 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 11 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 9 points.
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry: 45 percent could support, 40 percent could not support, 15 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 5 points.
  • Cruz: 40 percent could support, 38 percent could not support, 22 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 2 points.
  • Jindal: 36 percent could support, 25 percent could not support, 39 percent undecided. Favorability gap of 11 points.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.

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