Perry famously forgot the name of the Energy Department during his first presidential bid in 2012, when he pledged to eliminate the federal agency if elected. When pressed on the gaffe — which took place in the middle of a primary debate — Perry simply shrugged and said, “Oops,” earning himself, in some media and critics’ corners, the unfortunate nicknames Rick “Oops” Perry and Governor Oops.
Perry, 66, ran a second, short-lived campaign for president last year before dropping out in September to become the first Republican to leave the then-crowded GOP race. Perry was a vocal critic of Trump during the primaries, repeatedly denouncing the now president-elect and blasting him as a “false prophet” and “a cancer on conservatism.”
Trump, meanwhile, labeled Perry a “hypocrite” and questioned his intelligence, saying in one campaign speech: “He put glasses on so people will think he’s smart. And it just doesn’t work! People can see through the glasses. He used to be really a nice guy. He used to come see me for contributions and support. All of a sudden he wants to show he’s a tough guy with Trump.”
But after Perry dropped out of the race, Trump called the former governor a “terrific guy” and said he wished him well. Perry also walked back his criticism of Trump last May, as it became clear that he was likely to win the Republican nomination. “I believe that Donald Trump should be our guy,” Perry said at the time, also noting, “I will be open to any way I can help.”
Trump released a statement Wednesday on his nomination of Perry, saying, “As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry created created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country as Secretary of Energy. My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process.”
Here are five more facts to know about Perry:
1. He’s an author
Perry has written two books. On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For, published in 2008, is about the positive influence the Boy Scouts have had on America’s young men. In Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, published in November 2010, Perry discusses his support for limited central government.
2. He wasn’t always a Republican
Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1984. During the presidential primary in 1988, he was chairman of Democrat Al Gore’s campaign in Texas. Michael Dukakis eventually won the Democratic nomination, and lost the presidential election to George H.W. Bush. The following year, Perry announced he was switching parties.
3. He’s friends with rocker Ted Nugent
Perry’s friend Nugent performed at his second inauguration ceremony in July 2007. The performance – and in particular, Nugent’s decision to wear a Confederate flag T-shirt onstage – sparked controversy.
4. He married his childhood sweetheart
Perry and his wife, Anita, met at a piano recital when they were both elementary school students in Texas. Anita Perry received a degree in nursing from West Texas State University and has led a number of health projects around Texas. The couple, who wed in 1982, have two grown children, Griffin and Sydney.
5. He can’t resist a good prank
While a student at Texas A&M – where he initially wanted to study veterinary medicine – Perry figured out how to drop M-80s into the plumbing system on the second floor so that they would shoot out of toilets on the first floor. He also, on one occasion, put live chickens inside a fellow student’s closet.