Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a plan to juice up the American economy, expand the middle class, resurrect the American Dream and defeat ISIS: Elect a leader who's not from D.C.
"We're not going to fix Washington by electing a president who is from Washington, of Washington, or for Washington," Perry said during a Republican leadership summit in New Hampshire Friday. "Change is only going to come from the outside in my perspective and so should the next president."
It's a clear dig at Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but also a jab at three fresh-faced Republican senators officially seeking the White House in their first terms. For Perry—a three-term governor who ran for president in 2012, but failed to translate his Texas accomplishments into a winning message—a presidential bid now would be a second chance to prove to the party that he's still relevant. This time around, it's clear he wants voters to see him as the most experienced guy for the job.
It's a big climb for Perry, who endured an embarrassing collapse of his campaign in 2011, when he faced questions about peculiar speeches and odd behavior in New Hampshire. But in an election where there will be plenty of younger, newer alternatives, Perry is trying to carve out his spot on the stage as one of the party's esteemed elders.
In Friday's speech, Perry seemed relaxed yet authoritative as he rattled off his state's 5.6 million-person boom in population, rapid job growth, and increase in high school graduation rates that all happened under his watch.
"I am optimistic about the future of this country. I am. I know it is possible. I know it is possible partly because I've had the great privilege over the last 14 years to govern a state that has been able to do some extraordinary things during that period of time," Perry said.
Perry's tone—similar to that of many other candidates this cycle so far—focused far less on business owners and more on how the Republican Party could make its pitch to the lower and middle class. And even as uncertainty looms overseas with an Iran nuclear deal in the balance, the threat of ISIS, and instability in pockets of the world from Ukraine to Yemen, Perry made the case that "there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed with new leadership.
"I believe that with all my heart. We are a few good decisions away from leadership," Perry said.
But whether New Hampshire voters are willing to give Perry another chance is still unclear. Perry remains in the bottom tier of candidates that voters are considering. A Suffolk University poll showed he was far below where he once stood in the state.
For Perry, a run for president wouldn't necessarily be about winning at this point. It might just be a chance to show voters he's not scared to go back to New Hampshire. It's another shot at rebuilding his reputation.