Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday in a visit to a key early voting state that he was unprepared for and humbled by his first run for president in 2012. He said he will work harder if there's a next time around.
Perry addressed a group of business leaders in New Hampshire Friday and told them he had not decided yet whether to run again in 2016.
His 2012 campaign ended badly when he made several missteps, including a highly-publicized gaffe when he froze up during a televised debate. Perry admitted he underestimated the intensity of a presidential campaign.
"Running for president of the United States, I don't care how good you might think you might be," he said. "Whether you've been elected governor of Texas three times and served for 12 years, it is not good enough from the standpoint of the preparation to run for the presidency of the United States."
If he runs, Perry said, voters can expect a different candidate.
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"I've spent a lot of time in preparation," he said. "That's not to say I've made a decision I'm going to run. I haven't. But the reason I don't choose to run will not be because I'm ill-prepared."
Perry is scheduled to meet top Republicans and attend at least a half-dozen events Friday and Saturday, including one sponsored by the conservative political group Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
Perry was indicted last week on two felony counts of abuse of power, stemming from his veto last summer of state funds for public corruption prosecutors. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and has said he's confident the indictments will be exposed as nothing but a politically motivated attempt at retaliation. He didn't shy away from the indictment on Friday, telling the business leaders he would be exonerated.
In Austin, Perry's attorney said Friday that he will ask a judge to dismiss the criminal charges. The motion for dismissal "will speak for itself, but it is based on the governor's veto power, separation of powers in the Texas Constitution, First Amendment rights and the speech and debate clause," said David Botsford, Perry's attorney.
So far, the indictment - and Perry's response - appear to only be galvanizing New Hampshire Republicans, according to Steve Duprey, a GOP national committee member and former chairman of the state party.
"I think that he is taking the right approach that it's wrong, unjust and political," Duprey said. "Indicting the governor for vetoing funds because he thought a convicted drunk shouldn't be a prosecutor is wrong."
That sentiment was echoed by some in Friday's pro-business, anti-regulation crowd who gave him a warm reception. Eddie Edwards, a Republican running for state Senate, brushed off the indictment and praised Perry's veto of the funding.
"Governor, I want to tell you I admire your courage in standing up and holding people accountable," Edwards said.
Perry spent much of his 50-minute talk to the business leaders sounding like a man with his eye on the Oval Office. He took on the federal government for what he called its failure to secure the Southern border and a foreign policy he said has exposed the country to dangers from groups like the Islamic State. Perry noted this week's videotaped slaying of New Hampshire journalist James Foley. He also discussed North Korea, China, job creation and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of an 18-year-old black man.
That, together with the New Hampshire trip - followed by visits to other key early states including Iowa and South Carolina - won't do much to tamp down speculation that he'll mount another bid.
Additionally, Perry has been beefing up his foreign policy credentials. On Thursday, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to pontificate on the immigration crisis at the southern border and the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Earlier this month, he told a reporter at the Iowa State Fair that he has been receiving policy briefings on the state of the world. He's also traveled abroad, including a trip to Israel last October and an upcoming trade mission to Japan and China next month.
"Perry has admitted that running for president is an extremely large challenge and I think voters here are willing to give him a second chance," South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore said.
Democrats are using the governor's visit to New Hampshire try to hang Perry around the neck of the two Republicans likely to run for U.S. Senate and governor.
"Now that the New Hampshire Republican Party has made it clear they will continue to welcome Perry to the Granite State despite his recent criminal indictment, will Scott Brown and Walt Havenstein also embrace the disgraced Texas governor?" Democratic Party spokesman Bryan Lesswing said.