Rick Perry’s supporters launch super PAC

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry pumps his fist as he walks on stage during the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As former Texas Gov. Rick Perry readies a second presidential campaign, his supporters have created a super PAC devoted to his 2016 ambitions.

A handful of former aides and allies on Thursday launched the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on Perry’s behalf.

“We want to focus on introducing Rick Perry to the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — and throughout the country,” Austin Barbour, a senior adviser for the new organization, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I don’t think when he ran in ’11 and ’12 many people got a chance to truly understand his background. He’s got an incredible story to tell.”

Perry has yet to declare his plans for 2016, but all signs point to a second run. Since formally leaving office in January, he has been ramping up his political operation and traveling to early voting states. He’s set to appear in Iowa this weekend and spend all of next week in New Hampshire and South Carolina. The states represent the first three on the presidential primary calendar.

“I don’t shy away from the fact that I have been preparing. Preparation’s done. I’m ready,” Perry said in a January AP interview. “But I will announce at the appropriate time my intentions.”

Perry was thought to be a leading contender in 2012 for a time before quickly flaming out. He’s among several likely 2016 candidates to have the benefit of supportive super PACs.

While the Opportunity and Freedom PAC cannot legally coordinate with a prospective presidential campaign, its chairmen include two of Perry’s former chiefs of staff who are based in Texas. Barbour said the bulk of the group’s funding would come from Texas, and that the organization would publicly disclose all donors and spending as required by law.

“We’ve got some folks we’ve talked to in the first few hours who are ready to step up and step up big,” Barbour said, declining to release any names. He said the organization would release names of new political supporters and donors in the coming days and weeks.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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