WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A look at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “I don’t know whether I’m going to run for the presidency. I’m going to spend the time in preparation,” Ohio, April.
Book: Not since 2010.
Iowa visits: Yes, visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. Also met with Gov. Terry Branstad and addressed a Des Moines crowd of 400 in November.
New Hampshire: No.
South Carolina: Yes, spoke to state GOP in December. Also visited in August to raise money for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign. This is the state where he announced his failed presidential campaign, in August 2011, and where he dropped out, in January 2012, two days before its primary.
Foreign travel: Yes, has visited Israel numerous times including an October trip that included a photo op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting Cabinet members, and a separate stop in London to see British officials and financial leaders.
Meet the money: Yes, very friendly with major donors nationwide as former head of the Republican Governors Association, and has strong contacts with both grass-roots activists and mainstream GOP donors from his years in office. Since announcing last summer he won’t seek a fourth full term, has had more time to work the phones privately. Also has led many job-poaching missions in big states with Democratic governors and met privately during those trips with key donors, especially in New York and California.
Networking: Yes, spoke at the past two Conservative Political Action Conferences, as well as its regional meeting in St. Louis in September. Addressed conservative activists at a RedState Gathering in New Orleans in August, mistakenly saying he was in Florida. Job-rob tour in various states helped make connections.
Hog the TV: Raising his profile lately, making several national TV appearances while starring in a flood of media spots in California designed to persuade businesses based there to move to Texas. Previously, though, not much. Only a few Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, including one in February with three other governors. Said on CNN in February “it wasn’t appropriate” for his old friend, renegade rocker Ted Nugent, to call President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Perry debated health care law on “Crossfire” in September with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s considering running for Democratic presidential nomination.
Do something: “Texas Miracle” job-creation boom saw the state create a third of the net new jobs nationwide between 2003 and 2013, although Texas has disproportionately high percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less. Toyota’s U.S. headquarters is moving to Texas from California, as is Occidental Petroleum’s HQ. Helped muscle new abortion restrictions into law last summer. Challenged the Democratic candidate to replace him as governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, on the abortion issue by asking, what if her mother had aborted her?
Take a stand: A prominent voice on conservative issues since before the birth of the tea party. Wants to ban all abortion in Texas, relax environmental regulations, boost states’ rights; opposes gay marriage and says the health care law is doomed.
Baggage: “Oops!” Memories of his stumbling and what he now calls “humbling” 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: He’s got a more serious, mature look with dark-framed eyeglasses and more touches of gray for the man long dubbed “Governor Good Hair.” Also a potential drag: a grand jury investigation in Austin into whether he abused power by cutting off state financing for an office of public corruption prosecutors led by a Democrat who refused to resign after being convicted of drunken driving.
Shadow campaign: Created Americans for Economic Freedom in 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican governors nationwide. Using more than $200,000 left over from the PAC that raised millions for his 2012 campaign, the group was formed with Jeff Miller, a former chief financial officer for the California Republican Party, as CEO. Board members include economist Art Laffer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 White House campaign Perry endorsed upon giving up his own presidential bid. That group and public-private marketing fund TexasOne have paid for much of Perry’s domestic and overseas travel.
Social media: Active. One popular tweet was accidental — from his pocket, he said — and consisted of “I.” Followers jumped in to complete his sentence. One offered: “I … really like Obamacare.” (He doesn’t.) Facebook appears staff-generated. Calls himself now simply a politician, though he was still listed on Facebook as a presidential candidate long after he left the 2012 race.
A look at preparations by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate.” — February. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.
Book: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April. Also, a coloring book featuring Cruz has sold tens of thousands of copies since its December release.
Iowa: Yes, four visits in eight months. In March, Cruz addressed influential Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines while also keynoting a packed county GOP event in Mason City. Went pheasant hunting and spoke at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October, addressed conservative Christians in August and met privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project in July.
New Hampshire: Yes, three times. Headlined the spring GOP Lincoln Day Dinner at a North Country ski resort in April, two weeks after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Manchester. First came for August 2013 state GOP committee fundraiser.
South Carolina: Yes, speech at The Citadel military college in April was third visit in a year, following event with religious conservatives in November and speech to annual state GOP dinner last May.
Foreign travel: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012 even before taking office. Again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.
Meet the money: Yes, met in March with top California conservative donors and keynoted a February GOP fundraiser packed with high-rollers in the ballroom of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate — though those gathered offered louder applause for a short video from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz also huddled with Trump in New York City in November and has a list of potential donors that’s still rising after collecting more than 1.5 million signatures for the online petition “Don’tFundObamaCare,” which he began in 2013.
Networking: Yes, vigorously. Spoke by video to NRA’s April leadership forum. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing the group’s coveted keynote role in 2013. He’s engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond, and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders. Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate.
Hog the TV: Yes, several Sunday news show appearances already this year, plenty last year. Frequent guest on Fox News and CNN.
Do something: Threatened to filibuster February legislation raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default, forcing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and much of the GOP Senate leadership to vote against him and defy the tea party. His 21-hour, 19-minute quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor in September helped spark the government shutdown the following month. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, eight of them as Texas solicitor general (2003-2008).
Take a stand: Cruz stood all night during his marathon Senate speech that began by opposing “Obamacare” but veered into his reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” He joked at the Gridiron Club dinner in March that the speech featured hours of “my favorite sound” — his own voice. His encore debt-limit filibuster threat only further embodied core aspirations of the tea party.
Baggage: Reputation as an upstart who seeks out controversy, which is also part of his appeal. Has always been polarizing in his own party, but GOP leadership was downright enraged with him after February’s debt-limit filibuster threat. Also has family baggage: His father has called for sending President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” But Ted Cruz has birther baggage of his own: Questions about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz promised in the summer of 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship — but still hasn’t done so.
Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, and has gotten millions of dollars and grassroots logical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz’s 2013 tour of Texas and different states, opposing the health care law. His chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 book about federal overreach.
Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter. Upset animal advocates by using both to post a picture of himself and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, kneeling next to a tiger skin rug. Photos once had Cruz in hunting gear, but he’s now seen wearing his usual suit and tie in photos for both his campaign and Senate accounts.