Texas Governor Rick Perry will not run for reelection next year, he announced today. "The time has come," he said, "to pass on the mantle of leadership." He will probably run for president in 2016, apparently on his pro-life, pro-Texas bona fides.
With Perry's wife Anita providing an introduction, the event felt like a farewell to public office from the outset. Speaking from in front of heavy machinery at a Caterpillar dealership in San Antonio, Perry outlined his legislative accomplishments: tort reform, balanced budgets, keeping taxes low — and, of course, protecting the "sanctity of marriage" and "the right to life." Trumpeting the state's job growth, he exclaimed, "Texas works!"
Perry returned a few times to that "right to life" point, clearly seeing it as integral to his legacy. At one point he joked about making "legislators uncomfortable," with a chuckle. At another, he said that his leadership would include overseeing the special session currently considering reforms curtailing the availability of abortion — and, he added, any more special sessions in the future, suggesting that no new filibusters would ultimately block the maneuver. "Texas is and will remain a strong pro-family, pro-life, pro-freedom state," Perry concluded.
Awaiting Rick Perry's big announcement in San Antonio... pic.twitter.com/QUxcGDf7Xz— John Schwartz -- NYT (@jswatz) July 8, 2013
What comes next? "I will pray and reflect and work to determine my future path," he said, making it clear that among those options is the possibility of a second run at the presidency. On Fox News on Sunday, Perry said so explicitly.
Fox's John Roberts: Let's talk about 2016. Do you want to take another run at the president?
Perry: Well, certainly, that's an option out there, but, again, we got a lot of work to do in this building right behind me over the course of the next couple of weeks that have my focus substantially more than even 2014 or 2016.
As MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin notes, Perry's announcement today allows Perry to accept Wall Street contributions for a federal run — contributions that as a state officeholder he wouldn't be able to accept.
"I make this decision as a man forever moved by the people I have met," Perry said near the culmination of his speech, then continuing, "Today, Texas is the envy of the nation." The accuracy of the statement is open to interpretation, of course, but Perry certainly hopes it's the impression that sticks.
Perry became governor in 2000 following the election of George W. Bush to the presidency. He's the longest-serving governor in the state's history, having been reelected in 2002, 2006, and 2010.