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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 6th, 2014
05:26 PM ET

Humbled Perry says back surgery played a role in 2012 campaign struggles

(CNN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made no secret he is contemplating the possibility of running for President in 2016. But though the Republican Party often nominates candidates who have run before that strategy is rarely successful.

In an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Perry said he learned a lot from his 2012 campaign experience when he exited the primaries early on.

"I won't have major back surgery six weeks before the announcement," says Perry, of the next possible run for the White House.

When he announced his presidential bid in August 2011, Perry said he felt invincible, telling himself: "I'm 61 years old, I'm bulletproof, I'm 10-feet tall, I can do anything."

But 2012 was "a very humbling experience."

"Anyone who watched that campaign knows it was a very humbling time for me. But that’s not necessarily bad. I judge people on how do you react after a failure? How do you pick yourself up and go forward?

"And certainly it’s part of what drives me to finish up my 11 months as governor of Texas on some high notes economically for our state, which we’re doing, and it is an option for me. And it’s one that sometime in 2015 I’ll make the decision whether or not that is the avenue I want to pursue," said Perry.

Will 'Bridgegate' affect Gov. Chris Christie?

Perry has a slight edge over potential 2016 rival New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a new poll. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that more Republicans view Christie negatively – 30% would "definitely not" vote for Christie, versus Perry's 21%.

The two governors had similar favorable poll numbers.

"We all set a tone," said Perry. "We all represent our state. And I think Chris represents his state, and frankly represents his state well. The issues of this bridge and whether he knew or not, I trust that he is telling us the truth," said Perry.

Christie’s administration has been roiled by a political scandal involving traffic jams around the George Washington Bridge.

Can Hillary 2016 be beat?

Whether or not Perry is the GOP nominee, he will be doing everything he can to defeat the Democrat, who may very well be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party is united around her, while the Republican field is all over the map with no real frontrunner.

Can Hillary Clinton be defeated?

"That is so far down the road," said Perry.

"I’m not being coy. I mean, it’s a fact. There are all types of stories, all types of things, all types of events that are going to occur between now and November ... that completely change the landscape for 2016," said Perry.

"My focus, and I hope most Republican and Republican governors in particular, will stay focused on 2014. We get that right, then the script for 2016 may substantially look different," said the Texas governor.

A diplomatic tool against Russia, in Texas?

The United States on Thursday expanded a visa ban and set the groundwork for sanctions against Russians and others over the crisis in Ukraine, while Europe also threatened similar action if the matter cannot be resolved diplomatically.

"Sanctions work," Perry said.

But Perry expressed doubt that the White House had the wherewithal to effectively punish Russia, echoing fellow Republican Sen. John McCain in calling the Obama administration's foreign policy "feckless."

"When you look at Syria, when you look at Egypt – all of those have been extremely muddled in their application. I hope that that's not what we're going to do here," Perry said.

One diplomatic tool Perry suggests the U.S. could deploy is liquid natural gas – which just happens to be big in the state of Texas.

"We need to, I think, flex our muscle," said Perry. "That sends the message to Russia, and sends the message to our friends in the European Union that we'll be willing to negotiate to help relieve the pressure from the Russians on the natural gas side."

The United States has about $40 billion a year in trade with Russia and Europe does about ten times as much business. The United States needs European involvement for the sanctions to really hurt, but there seems to be great reluctance, especially on the part of American allies in Britain and Germany, both dependent on Russian energy.

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