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Rick Perry's biggest presidential sales pitch: The economy

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry says 2016 will be a "show me, don't tell me" election. And in a video announcing his second run for president, he makes clear that he plans to put his record on the line.

CNBC has a lot of data to offer on Perry's biggest debate point.

According to our America's Top States for Business rankings—which cover more than half of Perry's 14 years in office—Rick Perry has a pretty powerful economic story to tell.

Texas was America's Top State for Business three times during Perry's governorship—2008, 2010 and 2012—and never finished below second place while he was in office. When it comes to consistently solid performance in our rankings year after year, no state has come close to Rick Perry's Texas.

In a CNBC interview after the first title in 2008, Perry summed up his state's formula for success.

"We've got low taxes, we've got a balanced regulatory climate, we've got a fair legal system, and we continue to fund an accountable school system so that we have a good, skilled workforce," Perry said.

Of course, Texas has some built-in advantages that would benefit any governor. It is a big state with a big economy that until recently benefited from huge demand and rising prices for oil and natural gas. It has a highly developed infrastructure, including two of the nation's busiest airports and a vital seaport. In short, Texas is a state no business can afford to ignore, no matter who is in the governor's mansion.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry campaigning for Senate Republican candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, Oct. 24, 2014, in Smithfield, North Carolina
Getty Images
Texas Gov. Rick Perry campaigning for Senate Republican candidate and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, Oct. 24, 2014, in Smithfield, North Carolina

But Perry leveraged those built-in advantages and aggressively marketed his state, often to the annoyance of his fellow governors. Under Perry, Texas was a perennial leader in job creation.

Where Perry is weak

Our studies also expose some weaknesses under his administration.

Despite Perry's claims about the school system, the state typically finished in the middle of the pack in education, with an average rank of 26th place. It is a relatively expensive state, averaging a 30th-place ranking under Perry for Cost of Doing Business. Texas may have no income tax, but it has the third-highest property taxes in the nation.

Texas averaged 32nd place for quality of life, in large part because of the state's dismal record on health insurance coverage. Texas has the largest percentage of uninsured residents of any state, at 22.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Read MoreThe governors' race for the White House

Still, speaking to CNBC after Texas took the Top State prize in 2012, Perry said those numbers were actually a good thing.

"Texas decided a long time ago that we weren't going to burden people and force them to buy insurance," he said.

Perry's staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act has not helped improve the state's economy, though, with NPR reporting that his decision early on to reject the expansion of Medicaid offered under the law is costing the state as much as $100 billion in federal aid over 10 years.

At the time, Perry said he was rejecting the expansion to avoid what he called the "fool's errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system." But some business leaders have complained that the federal money would have come in handy to reduce their tax burden.

Perry left office in January at an opportune time as far as his economic record is concerned, with the price of oil—which provided a tailwind for much of his administration—plunging. He is also battling an abuse-of-power indictment in Texas, an issue that is bound to come up repeatedly in the campaign.

But in most of the areas covered by our Top States for Business rankings—including economy, infrastructure and innovation, Perry heads into the 2016 race with plenty of ammunition.

Read MoreComing soon: America's Top States for Business 2015