Rick Perry is beefing up his policy shop.
The likely Republican presidential candidate's political action committee, RickPAC, will announce new staff hires as early as Monday, including senior-level advisers in the areas of health care, economics, and foreign policy, a person familiar with the plans told Bloomberg.
The former Texas governor, who left office earlier this year, has not formally announced a run for the White House, but after a gaffe-riddled 2012 presidential bid in which his intelligence was widely questioned, Perry has been expanding his political operation and traveling the country to rebuild his image as a serious Republican prospect.
That effort now includes the hiring of the widely respected Avik Roy, a former health care adviser to Mitt Romney and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who will become RickPAC's senior adviser, the person said. Also coming on board: Abby McCloskey, whose conservative credentials include work as an economic policy program director for American Enterprise Institute, will head Perry’s national policy team. Brett Fetterly, a graduate student at John Hopkins University who studied under former U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman, will coordinate Perry’s foreign policy shop.
The Manhattan Institute and AEI are two of the most respected think tanks in conservative circles, and these hires will serve in some quarters as validation of Perry’s heft as both a wonk and a candidate. In his first presidential campaign, Perry gave a number of policy speeches, including on energy, the economy, and national security, that were largely overshadowed by the attention to his late entry, rapid rise, and even more rapid collapse.
Roy and McCloskey were among several experts called on last year to brief the Texas governor on various issues, according to the Washington Post, but their new official roles could help Perry’s rehabilitation with a detailed platform that distinguishes him from other 2016 Republicans. With few exceptions, the crowded GOP field is largely homogeneous on major international and domestic issues, as many would-be candidates have offered only varying degrees of vagueness about their proposed policy agendas so far.
The staff announcement will come just days after Perry appeared on a stage at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire, where he sought to convince party activists that he has studied up on policy issues since 2012 and outgrown the missteps that ended his last presidential nomination bid.
Perry, arguing that his record as tough-talking governor would make him the most battle-tested contender in the race, has openly pitted his executive experience in Texas against the accomplishments of Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, who have already launched presidential campaigns.