The Note: In Texas, It's Rick Perry's Take Two



--ABC's JON KARL on "Good Morning America" with his latest analysis of the state of the 2016 race. WATCH:

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: The debate stage would be full right now, if the window closed on announcements. Rick Perry's entry into the race on Thursday makes 10 Republican presidential candidates. Of course, that doesn't include Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, or Donald Trump. It's become vogue to mock Republicans for having too many candidates, and the scramble for a debate ticket will be real and fierce. But the real impact of the large field will be the unpredictable nature of the dynamics. Candidates will be squaring off against each other for slices of support, and saying things -- intentionally and not -- that will dominate discussion along the way. (Even the metric system might end up being a campaign issue.) For Republicans worried about the chaos, this remains a formidable and impressive field. And -- take heart -- one of these people will win the nomination, not 10.



--IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: WHO IS CHAFEE ANYWAY? A former blacksmith from a political family, Chafee was first elected mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island in 1992, and served until 1999 when he took over his father's seat in the U.S. Senate after his father died. He served one term in the Senate, but lost the Republican primary for the seat in 2006.

TED CRUZ APOLOGIZES FOR JOE BIDEN JOKE. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz apologized after making a joke about Vice President Joe Biden while he is mourning his son. "Joe Biden," Cruz reportedly said to some laughter while speaking at an event in Michigan. "You know the nice thing? You don't need a punchline." The vice president's son Beau Biden died Saturday after battling brain cancer. He was 46. Cruz then took to his Facebook page and Twitter to apologize, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. "It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize," he said, according to the post. "The loss of his son is heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with the Vice President and his family."

MARTIN O'MALLEY HITS POPULIST THEMES. Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland, struck a populist note yesterday in his first public appearance since officially announcing his presidential run, ABC's ALI DUKAKIS reports. Appearing before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. for forty-five minutes of questions and answers, O'Malley said: "We need to realize that our economy is not money, our economy is people, and we need to put wage policies at the center," he said. He later added, "No state and no city is an island, we need to get our national economy functioning again by getting wages to start rising instead of declining."

--O'MALLEY ALSO OUTLINED HIS PLANS FOR IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL IF ELECTED, and tried to distinguish himself from President Obama and Hillary Clinton, who has grabbed a foothold with Hispanic voters."I intend to make a great comprehensive immigration reform a national economic priority and a national security priority, and I am going to do whatever it takes to get it done during my service in office," O'Malley said. ABC's JIM AVILA, SERENA MARSHALL and COURTNEY BARROW note that while O'Malley was governor of Maryland, he passed a state version of Deferred Action for Dreamers, as well as supporting drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. Maryland also offered services and support for children brought across during the migrant flood last summer.

VETERAN WASHINGTON DC DEFENSE ATTORNEY STANDS IN FOR DENNIS HASTERT. Last month, criminal defense attorney Barry Wm. Levine found himself trying to win the release of a man who shot, and nearly killed, a United States President -- his client, John W. Hinckley Jr. Now, Levine could face another daunting, high-profile challenge. Levine appears on the notice of arraignment filed with the U.S. District Court as the lawyer for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was indicted last week on bank fraud charges related to paying someone to conceal "prior misconduct." ABC's MATTHEW MOSK reports sources knowledgeable of the case told ABC News Hastert was paying a man hundreds of thousands of dollars to hide that Hastert had engaged in sexual misconduct with him while serving as his teacher and wrestling coach decades earlier. The Hastert case is still in its earliest stages, and Levine's exact role remains unclear -- he could be lead attorney or just a stand-in who appeared on forms while Hastert retains different counsel.

CIVIL LIBERTIES A 'THORNY POLICY CHALLENGE' WHILE THWARTING US TERROR. The White House acknowledged Wednesday that tracking Americans inspired by ISIS propaganda, and thwarting potential attacks, without compromising civil liberties is "among the most difficult challenges that the president faces." The comment comes the same day the head of the FBI's counter-terrorism division told Congress "we are dark" when it comes to tracking some private communications of suspected terrorists because of advanced encryption by mobile companies, according to ABC's JORDYN PHELPS. "This is a very thorny policy challenge and maybe even among the most difficult challenges that the president faces, but it's one that he's mindful of," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC's JONATHAN KARL in Wednesday's press briefing.


THE WHITE HOUSE GARDEN INCLUDES A VEGETABLE YOU PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF. Ever heard of kohlrabi? If you're like us, probably not. But it's one of the many vegetables grown in the White House Kitchen Garden. First lady Michelle Obama invited local schoolchildren to the White House Wednesday to harvest the garden. But gloomy weather prompted the event to move indoors. "We're gonna cook! Cook, chop, eat, celebrate!" the first lady said to the group of children. The first lady helped children as they chopped and assembled meals made of broccoli, lettuce, snap peas and, yes, kohlrabi, which is a member of the cabbage family, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The end result: chicken and veggie soba noodle salad with honey dressing straight from the White House bees.


@AdamWollner: Rick Perry hopes his military experience will help distinguish him from a crowded GOP field: …

@ForecasterEnten: Can't fault Chafee for entering: he believes Clinton's support is a kilometre wide but only a centimetre deep. #cantgetenoughmetric

@Phil_Mattingly: Only half of Iowa GOP caucus-goers care if candidates attend the straw poll, via @McCormickJohn …

@ZekeJMiller: .@michaelscherer: Payback Is Coming to Rand Paul via @TIMEPolitics

@morningmoneyben: Just once I'd like to hear a candidate do an announcement and say: "After careful consideration I've realized I have no chance. I'm out."