Mar 12, 2015 6:39 PM

Perry tells NH1 this time around he'll be 'substantially better prepared'

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD - Rick Perry vows to have a "very well thought out campaign" if he runs again for the Republican presidential nomination.

And in an interview with NH1, the former longtime Texas governor also said he supports the controversial letter sent by 47 GOP Senators to Iran that appeared to try and thwart a potential deal between President Barack Obama and Tehran over that country's nuclear program, adding that "I think the Republicans who signed that were spot on."

Perry's Thursday visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state came one day after all-but-certain Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a news conference to deal with a major controversy over her exclusive use of a private email account while she served as secretary of state during Obama's first term in the White House. Asked if he used a private email account instead of official state government email during his 14 years as Texas governor, Perry told NH1 ""I followed all the rules and the laws of the state of Texas dealing with emails."

"I think that yesterday's press conference created a whole lot more questions than it did answers. And watching the drama of the Clintons again is not necessarily good for the country in my opinion."

Perry's first stop during his two-day swing was at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, where he headlined the latest edition of the Politics and Eggs series. In a sign of his dedication to touting his commander-in-chief chops, Perry led his address with foreign policy and national security instead of domestic issues.

And asked about the proposed deal with Iran, Perry was critical of the President, saying "I happen to believe that there are some things that are too important, frankly, not to find compromise on. Allowing Iran to get its hands on a nuclear weapon is not negotiable, in my opinion. And I think the President is making an error."

But Perry also sounded a note of caution when it came to a muscular national defense, saying that "as a former captain in the United States Air Force, as a captain who has flow into many of those regions in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, I'm not eager to pursue a military solution, a military action in that part of the world"

Perry was also questioned about campaign finance reform. He said that "I come from a state where we have no limits on campaign contributions. we are all about disclosure. I'm a big fan of disclosure. I happen to think that you disclose where you get the dollars. You do it almost immediately."

Perry added that "limiting of dollars is not the issue," and that instead "transparency of the dollars is the real issue."

But in his interview later in the day with NH1, Perry admitted that if elected president, "campaign finance reform is an important issue but it's probably not going to be at the top of the list of things to get done."

As he does at all his stops, Perry touted his economic record steering Texas.

"In my 14 years as governor, we have created nearly one-third of all the new private sector jobs created in the United States. Under my leadership we had 14 years of balanced budgets. Never skipped a debt payment. Never raised taxes. In fact I signed the largest tax cut in Texas history," Perry said.

"Listening to the President's State of the Union address, I kept waiting for him to give me a shout out for Texas helping the economic recovery that he talks about," Perry joked to laughter at his second event of the day, a business roundtable at Cleveland, Waters and Bass, a Concord based legal firm that advises businesses.

Gearing up towards 2016

Perry's trip to the Granite State is his second in a month, and he's coming back again in April for a major summit being organized by the New Hampshire Republican Party that's attracting many of the potential GOP White House contenders.

At his first two stops of the day, Perry was careful to point out that he hasn't decided whether he's going to make a second bid for the White House. But he closed his comments at Politics and Eggs by saying that "I will return. I will return."

And Perry concluded his comments at the business roundtable by saying that "you all will see me a lot" in the future.

Perry was a late entry into the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. While he initially soared in the polls, his campaign faltered, due in part to some high profile gaffes, and he ended his White House bid in January 2012, after finishing fifth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary. Perry, who spent little time campaigning in the Granite State, grabbed less than 1 percent of the primary vote.

Perry said if he runs again, he'll be much better prepared.

"The preparation side of this is most important to me. Three years ago we didn't put that preparation in. It was obvious and it was a pretty short lived campaign. This time people are going to see a substantially better prepared, whether it's on the issues or whether it's the organization that we put together, whether it's the boots on the ground right here in New Hampshire. They will see a very, very, well thought out campaign if we decide to pull that trigger," Perry told NH1.

Perry says he's sticking to his plan to announce his decision by May or June. As well as making visits to New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, the states that kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar, Perry and his team are reaching out to major Republican donors and building up fundraising support.

"He will have enough money to be very competitive. Money won't be an issue," a senior Perry political adviser told NH1.

Perry had his campaign A-game on Thursday. He was serious and appeared to have a wide command of the issues. And he was also folksy and humorous. At one point at the Politics and Eggs event, Perry came to the aid of the moderator, who was losing his voice.

"What he said was that I had agreed to do a couple of questions, just introduce yourself," Perry said to laughter.

And at a retail stop in the afternoon at Weed Family Automotive in Concord, Perry toured the garage and talked with the owner and employees. He even petted a couple of dogs. And he joked about a big "Yellow Rose Taxi Co." sign, saying that the Texas themed sign "is a little bit of home right there."

After his stops in Goffstown and Concord, Perry spent Thursday evening campaigning in the northern part of the state. Friday Perry wraps up his two-day swing with more stops in northern New Hampshire.

Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and longtime GOP consultant, told NH1 that "I was very impressed with the schedule that they put together for him on this trip. It's a very good New Hampshire retail schedule."

"I put him in the bracket with the more conservative candidates. Somebody, whether it's he or (Sen. Ted) Cruz (of Texas), or (Wisconsin Gov. Scott ) Walker, if that's where he's going to go, somebody is going to break out and be the dominant player of that pack. You don't have to beat the guys in the otherside, you have to beat the guys in your side," added Rath, a top political adviser to Mitt Romney in the 2008 and 2012 cycles, who's not taking sides at this moment in the 2016 campaign.


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