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Don’t apologize for Western values: Rick Perry enters the 2016 presidential race

Perry's greatest pro-life achievement was signing H.B. 2, which has closed the vast majority of the state's abortion facilities.
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Ben Johnson By Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson By Ben Johnson

ADDISON, TX, June 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The theme and content were similar, but Rick Perry hopes the second time is the charm as he announced today that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Perry, who just completed a stint as the longest-serving governor in Texas history, spoke of his “record of accomplishment”, saying, “This will be a 'show-me, don’t tell me' election.”

But he told of his vision for America at times in a speech by turns sentimental, philosophical, and inspirational.

“I know that America has experienced great change, but what it means to be an American has never changed,” Perry said.

“We are the only nation in the world founded on the power of an idea that all 'are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,'” he said to roaring applause. “Our rights come from God, not from government, and our people are not the subjects of government, but instead government is subject to the people.”

Today's speech echoed many of the themes of his last presidential announcement in 2012, when he entered the race as the most likely candidate to topple Mitt Romney. After a series of gaffes, including an embarrassing memory lapse during a debate that made him say “oops,” Perry finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses and withdrew before the South Carolina primary, endorsing Newt Gingrich. Perry blamed his poor performance on pain-killers he was taking due to a severe back injury.

"It was the weakest Republican field in history, and they kicked my butt," he joked in 2012. But his wife, Anita, described the 2012 debacle as a “pretty dark time” for the family. 

This race, he hopes, will bring personal and national redemption.

Many of the same references from his last campaign announcement, in South Carolina in August 2011, turned up in today's speech. Wearing his new dark glasses and speaking with ease and eloquence, Perry again mentioned his family's history as tenant farmers, his father's military service, even that his mother made their clothes.

Like today's reference to the Declaration of Independence, four years ago Perry said, “I learned that not everyone values life like we do in America, or the rights that are endowed to every human being by a loving God.”

Here again was an emphasis on national security, references to Navy SEALs, and evident pride in his role presiding over a vibrant economy that flourished even as the national economy cratered. “I led the world's twelfth largest economy,” he said today.

Neither announcement speech dwelt on social issues or religious freedom. However, Perry's record on either could hardly be questioned.

His most conspicuous pro-life accomplishment was heralding in H.B. 2, which ended abortion after 20 weeks, required that abortionists have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and demanded abortion facilities meet the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

Its restriction hit abortionists hard. There were 46 abortion facilities in Texas in 2011. After the law's full provisions kicked in last fall, only eight facilities remained in five cities, according to Fund Texas Choice.

Governor Perry also created an entire alternate state structure for women's health care rather than fund Planned Parenthood. He founded the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) after President Obama pulled federal funding – which accounted for 90 percent of the previous, $40 million Women's Health Program – because Texas had decided to withhold state funds from abortion providers. Gov. Perry responded by creating the new TWHP, funded entirely by state taxpayers.

Pro-lifers still smart from his 2008 endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, an outspoken supporter of abortion-on-demand and same-sex unions, and his 2007 executive order requiring Texas girls to receive the Gardasil vaccine against HPV. (The legislature later rescinded the act.) Some even bring up his 1988 endorsement of Al Gore, when Perry was still a Democrat. However, he has since said, “Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books.” No one questions his stance on life today.

His view of marriage is less certain. While he has said he personally agrees that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, he has also said he respects the rights of states like New York to redefine marriage for themselves, if they choose.

Perry's 2016 announcement speech hit President Obama hard on foreign policy and the economy, saying White House advisers “construct an alternate reality” when talking about the surging Islamic fundamentalist domination of the Middle East, which he credits to Barack Obama removing troops from Iraq.

Today, flanked by Lone Survivor Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and Taya Kyle, widow of American Sniper author Chris Kyle, he called the withdrawal “a national disgrace.”

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“We don’t have to settle for a world in chaos or an America that shrinks from its responsibilities. We don't have to apologize for American exceptionalism or Western values,” he said,

“We need to return power to the states, and freedom to the individual” and “lift wages for working families.”

He also cited his decision to send National Guard troops to the Mexican border during a recent immigration crisis.

“If you elect me your president, I will secure this border. Homeland security begins with border security,” he said. “The most basic compact between a president and the people is to keep the country safe.”

That's a far cry from 2012 when, during a GOP debate, he said if you reject granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, “I think you don't have a heart.”

It's clear he has learned at least some of the lessons of his past campaign. Time will tell whether it will be enough for the tenth GOP hopeful.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, taken before he was an announced candidate, shows Rick Perry with two percent support, just above Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, who declared their candidacies within the last week. They each had one percent support among the GOP.


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