Ex-advisers hint at future as Perry announces exit as governor
Announcement opens door to speculation Perry will make another bid for WH
Rick Perry may be giving up what he called "the greatest job in modern politics." But he's not leaving the Texas-sized political stage that launched his last run for the White House anytime soon.
After an event Monday in San Antonio where he announced he will not be seeking a fourth term as Texas governor, Perry was asked what he plans on doing with the time off he has coming.
"No time off man. What are you talking about? You weren't paying attention in there," Perry told CNN.
During a 15-minute speech thanking his family and supporters, Perry vowed to stay busy around the Texas state house. He repeatedly referred to the fight over abortion rights currently consuming the capitol in Austin.
But the Texas governor offered few clues about his political future, despite billing Monday's announcement as an unveiling of "exciting" plans.
Perry seemed prepared to announce only that he would "pray and reflect and work to determine" what comes next.
"Any future considerations I will announce in due time and I will arrive at that decision appropriately," Perry told the crowd.
Perry's reluctance or unwillingness to reveal any upcoming plans stunned some in the San Antonio crowd.
"Not making future announcement. Wow," Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based Republican strategist tweeted from the event.
Still, the campaign-style video that played on the jumbo screen before Perry's remarks left no doubt the Texas Governor and his team believe they still have a story to tell.
Touting the state's robust job growth over glossy film images of the stark Texan landscape and people, Perry brags in a long Lone Star drawl, "Texas is not merely strong but exceptional."
"It's obviously on his mind," said one former Perry staffer at the San Antonio event, referring to the possibility of another run for the White House.
"The sky's the limit," said another Perry loyalist, before conceding some Republicans would have to get over other "remembrances."
That was a reference to the near implosion of Perry's last campaign during his disastrous November 2011 GOP debate in Michigan. The Texas Governor famously forgot the third of three departments of the federal government he would eliminate as president. "Oops," Perry finally said, after failing to jog his memory in an excruciating and unforgettable television moment.
After that night, Perry pressed on only to stumble through the early primary and caucus states before bowing out in South Carolina.
The Texas governor has tried at times to explain his dismal 2012 performance. He has lamented his late entry into the race.
Still, Perry barreled into the 2012 race as an instant threat to eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney's front-runner status. Now, as governor for the next 18 months, Perry would still have access to a potent donor base.
Perry acknowledged he is keeping an eye on 2016 in an interview on Fox News Sunday. "Certainly, that's an option out there," Perry told Fox News.
In deciding against a fourth bid for governor, Perry has now paved the way for Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott to run for and likely win the state's Republican gubernatorial nomination. State Senator Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who last month filibustered a bill to restrict abortion rights in Texas, is frequently mentioned as a potential Democratic contender.
Several GOP strategists in the room at Perry's San Antonio event expect Abbott to make a formal announcement as soon as this weekend. Perry's decision to omit specific mentions about any future plans may have been out of courtesy to Abbott.
There were other notable faces in the crowd. Lee Majors, the star of the 70's era action show, "The Six Million Dollar Man," was also in attendance.
The sight of the actor who played the fictional astronaut, given super human strength after a near-death experience, invited some observers to wonder whether the same can be done for Perry's political career.
It's Perry's life that has been the stuff of Hollywood. Raised in the tiny town of Paint Creek, Perry rose to become the state's longest-serving governor. He assumed the governorship in December 2000, when George W. Bush stepped down to become president. Perry was elected to full four-year terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
"It's been an improbable journey," Perry told the crowd.