“We have the power to make things new again, to project America's strength again, and to get our economy going again,” Perry, 65, told those gathered at a public airfield in Addison, Texas, to hear the longtime politician formally announce his campaign. “That is exactly why today I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America.”
Perry, whose more than 14 years in office made him the longest-serving governor in Texas history, joins a stronger presidential field than he faced four years ago. Already, nine other Republicans have formally announced presidential candidacies, and at least half a dozen more are expected to jump into the 2016 race.
His speech, the plane he stood in front of and the prominent veterans joining him onstage highlighted his credentials as one of just a few 2016 presidential contenders who have served in the military. He flew planes while in the Air Force for five years in the 1970s.
"I was proud to wear the uniform of our country as an Air Force officer," Perry said, praising his father, a World War II veteran, and even George Washington's selflessness. Perry rose to the rank of captain during his time in the military.
"Each one of us has been touched by them," U.S. Navy SEAL (ret.) Pete Scobell said of Perry and his wife Anita, in remarks that preceded Perry's.
His campaign will be particularly susceptible to missteps, after his 2012 run was derailed by his cringe-worthy “‘oops’ moment,” when during a debate, he failed to remember the third of three federal agencies he said he would eliminate as president.
This time, though, he has said he has studied hard, and his many visits to Iowa in recent months have indicated he will make that state a central part of his election strategy.
The optics of his announcement today, however, appeared a bit off, with Luttrell and his brother Morgan, a current Navy SEAL, standing on either side behind Perry, framing him as if they were his bodyguards.
And Perry appeared to sweat profusely during his announcement, although so were many in the audience and on stage in the hangar on a day where highs in the Dallas area reached around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Perry faces an uphill battle, with doubts about whether his lagging poll numbers will even grant him entry to the first Republican debate in August.
He has indicated that he will put heavy emphasis on his leadership record. At his event today, he touted his executive experience in the Texas governor's mansion, saying he has "been tested" with "crisis after crisis" -- from hurricanes and a space shuttle disaster to border security and Ebola.
"Leadership is not a speech on the senate floor," he said. "It’s not what you say, it’s what you have done."
He'll have a busy first day in office if he wins the presidency, if his promises today bear out. He said he'd roll back Obamacare and other Obama-era regulations, approve the Keystone Pipeline, rescind any nuclear agreement with Iran, and authorize the export of American gas and oil.