Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday he is leaning toward running for re-election in 2014 and possibly another stab at the White House two years after that.
Perry also told The Texas Tribune he had learned a few lessons from his failed presidential bid. He said he knows now he got into the race too late. He underestimated how hard it would be to recover from back surgery. And he learned that everything a candidate says in a presidential race is fodder for the national media echo chamber.
Other than that, he loved every minute of it.
“It was fun. I had a great time,” Perry said. “I would not in any form or fashion tell you I wish I hadn’t done it, and I am so glad I did it.”
Perry spoke about the race and his future plans in a wide-ranging interview in his Capitol office Tuesday. It was his first extended sit-down interview with a Texas news outlet since he left the presidential race on Jan. 19.
He wore a pinstripe blue suit and his trademark black cowboy boots with the “Come and Take It” flag — a Texas revolutionary slogan — plastered on the front.
The Texas governor, who withdrew from the presidential race after a wild five-month run, said he is spending his days working on luring businesses to Texas and preparing for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature.
But he also took some time to look back on the 2012 race and to ponder his future in Texas and American politics.
There are no term limits in Texas, and Perry said he is seriously considering a run for re-election to an unprecedented fourth term in 2014. If he does run, Perry could wind up serving a total of 18 years in the governor’s office and he would complicate the plans of a host of other statewide elected officials.
At the top of that list would be Attorney General Greg Abbott, an oft-mentioned candidate for governor.
“I happen to think that being the governor of Texas, I’ve said many times, is the best job in the world. I still believe that,’’ Perry said. Asked if he was leaning toward running, Perry said: “Oh sure, yeah. I think it’s absolutely on the radar screen for me.”
“If I had to make a decision today, I’d say, yeah, absolutely, I’m going to give it consideration. But again, it’s way early.”
Perry also said he could again campaign for president, noting that many candidates who made it all the way had run before. He said some of the issues he brought up in the 2012 campaign have helped shape the race.
“We were the first ones to raise the issue of the 10th Amendment, we were the first ones to talk about a flat tax, we were the first ones to talk about the war on religion," Perry said. "I mean, that’s still raging out there."
Perry said while his main focus was state business, he would keep his feet on the national stage.
“I intend to continue to be involved in the national dialogue,” Perry said. “I’m going to continue to travel across the country.” Perry is expected to advocate for Newt Gingrich, whom he has endorsed in the 2012 race, after a nationally televised debate in Arizona on Wednesday evening.
Remembering his own debate performances, Perry said he wishes he hadn’t goofed but considers them learning experiences. The "oops" moment, when he couldn’t remember all three federal departments he wanted to shutter, stands out as a particularly rough one.
“Obviously it embarrasses you,” he said. “When the bright lights are on and trying to reach in there and get that exact thing that you’re looking for is elusive, so it’s happened to everyone, and I kind of take it as one of those great humbling moments in your life that helps us all become better people. From my perspective, I’d rather it not have happened. If you don’t hit a few speed bumps in your life, you’re probably going down a dead end road."
Perry, sometimes chided for his swaggering tone and imprudent remarks on the campaign trail, said he learned while running for president that everything you say can and will be broadcast all over the TV and internet.
“You’re on, and it’s taped, videoed. There’s somebody with a long-range microphone,’’ he said. “If you’re to join the fray, understand that’s what it is.”
Perry defended his use of an obscure provision that allows a tiny group of long serving elected officials to retire without ever leaving his job. Perry boosted his take home pay by nearly $100,000.
“The idea that somehow or another that’s inappropriate, I certainly don’t think so,” he said. “It’s rather inappropriate if you’re earned something and you don’t take it and take care of your family.”