DALLAS, TX (KTRK) -- It was a speech rife with symbolism and focused on foreign policy. Rick Perry: Presidential candidate 2.0.
"There is no person on earth more optimistic than a dryland cotton farmer," Perry said in reference to his young life as a West Texas farmer. "We always know that a good rain is just around the corner."
With war heroes flanking him to either side, and a C-130 similar to the one he flew in the Air Force, Perry talked about American exceptionalism, leading in the world again.
"I know that America has experienced great change, but what it means to be an American has never changed," he said, battling against the stifling heat inside a packed airplane hangar. "The fundamental nature of this country is our people never stay knocked down. We get back
up, we dust ourselves off, and we move forward. And, you know what, we will do it again."
Perry faces a crowded Republican field -- including Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Lindsay Graham, and Marco Rubio. Texas' longest-serving governor took at swipe at them -- when talking about true leadership. "Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor," he said. "It's not what you say, it's what you have done."
The speech ran thick with a patriotic message. It was no better exemplified than those sharing the stage with the state's longest-serving governor. Among them, a medal of honor winner, a WWII veteran, the widow of the nation's most deadly sniper, and a cadre of war heroes, including the author of "Lone Survivor," former SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
"I come out to these events and talk about the integrity and the honor and the commitment of the man, kind of the fiber of the man," Luttrell told Eyewitness News. He said the Perry family is like a second family him. "Because I've been around him and been in situations that
didn't have to do with politics."
But Perry also faces challenges outside of the ring. He was indicted last year and is two felony counts of abusing power while Governor.
He says the charges are politically motivated, but they are an obstacle with which he'll have to contend. And he will need to convince voters in early primary states he is not the same candidate they soundly rejected in the 2012 race that saw him drop out the day before the South Carolina Primary.
His first event is in Iowa on Friday, followed by a trip to New Hampshire on Sunday, and a visit to South Carolina on Monday.
Former Gov. Rick Perry running for president again