Texas Gov. Rick Perry drummed up local Republicans’ support during two stops Wednesday in Beaufort County, but for what exactly, he has not said.
He provided a hint, though.
Perry is among at least a half-dozen Republicans testing the waters for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, and this week he made stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, states whose primaries are among the earliest.
However, the governor has stopped short of formally announcing his candidacy, saying he’ll decide whether to do so next year.
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Perry addressed the possibility with about 100 members of the First Monday and Hilton Head Island Republican clubs during a lunch Wednesday at The Crazy Crab. He later met with members of the Sun City Hilton Head and Greater Bluffton Republican clubs at Rose Hill Golf Club.
“I learned some hard lessons in 2011 and 2012,” said Perry, an early dropout in the 2012 Republican presidential primary season. “I didn’t perform very well. I hadn’t done my homework, and it was obvious.”
Perry added that he wasn’t in the best of health after back surgery that year.
He has stayed in the national spotlight since, however, spending the past 22 months studying national policies and meeting with political institutes to prepare for a potential run.
“My wife and I might sit down and decide I’m not going to run ... but it will not be because I’m not prepared,” he said and smiled.
On Hilton Head Island, Perry emphasized energy policy and border security, to frequent applause. He argued that the new Republican-controlled Congress should start crafting legislation to open up the Keystone XL pipeline and add “more boots on the ground” to secure the U.S.-Mexican border.
“Tuesday night ... was a refuting of the president and the gridlock in Washington,” he said. “This was not to say to Republicans, ‘We love you to death.’ It was to say, ‘We’ll give you one more chance to govern.’ ”
If Republican legislators can persuade just a few Democrats to support their efforts, the president would be foolish to veto them, Perry said.
The Keystone XL pipeline — designed to carry petroleum from Canada to Gulf Coast oil refineries — could be the best opportunity for that, and Republicans have vowed to push for the pipeline’s approval. Perry argues the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and drive down energy prices, which ought to bring in support from some Democrats and unions.
“We’ve got a majority in the House; we’ve got a majority in the Senate.
“And a majority is a terrible thing to waste,” he quipped.