Perry returned to New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday in his
first visit to the state since his presidential bid unraveled,
laying out his message for a business-friendly government, stronger
border security and a more muscular foreign policy.
With Congress in recess and President Barack Obama on vacation,
Perry has become one of the most talked-about politicians since he
was indicted last week on two felony counts of abusing power for
trying to force a Democratic district attorney convicted of drunk
driving out of office by cutting off funds for an integrity unit in
Perry has held news conferences to denounce the indictment and
turned his police booking into a campaign-like event, speaking to
cheering supporters before and after he posed for a mugshot. He
carried that message over to New Hampshire.
"I'm going to fight this with every fiber in my body," Perry told
business leaders at a forum organized by the state Republican Party
Many were willing to give him a second chance.
"This time around it's going to be a lot different," said Debra
Grott, an accounting firm co-owner, after seeing Perry.
Things could not get much worse for Perry, who won 1 percent of the
vote in the 2012 New Hampshire primary and flamed out spectacularly,
going from a brief front-runner to a quick exit in a gaffe-strewn
campaign that raised questions as to whether he was ready for the
In the past week, his mentions on social media have soared and
searches for Perry's name on Google are hitting levels not seen
since the heyday of his last presidential run.
Perry, who in surveys of Republicans has ranked among the bottom of
possible presidential primary candidates, has portrayed himself as
the victim of a partisan political prosecution, which could gain him
support among Republican voters.
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He has built on momentum gained in recent months by attacking Obama
over what he says is lax border security.
But Fergus Cullen, the former head of the New Hampshire Republican
Party, said any advantage gained from Perry's indictment would be
"The problem is the last time he ran a terrible campaign, and he
embarrassed his supporters," he said.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas, said Perry has a brief chance to reintroduce
If Perry goes to trial, voters will see a parade of Perry operatives
discuss the deal-making surrounding the veto. "It will show how ugly
it is to see the political sausage made," Jillson said.
"Unless his lawyers can get the indictment quashed, get the
indictment thrown out by a judge before the trial begins, the trial
will kill him as a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016,"
(Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Writing by Jon
Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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