Rick Perry Enters Presidential Race

Rick Perry Enters Presidential Race

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - August 13, 2011

After months of speculation surrounding a Rick Perry run for the White House, the Texas governor finally put all the guesswork to rest Saturday by announcing his candidacy in front of a packed room of conservatives, some wearing "Perry 2012" pins, in the early voting state of South Carolina.

"It is time to get America working again,” said Perry in a speech at the annual RedState Gathering in Charleston. “That’s why, with the support of my family and unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States."

The governor’s announcement came on the same day that several of his now rivals are competing in the presidential straw poll in Ames, Iowa, a traditional early strength test in the nation's first caucus state. Perry’s name will not appear on that ballot, but he will visit the Hawkeye State on Sunday after traveling to New Hampshire Saturday night.

“I came to South Carolina because I will not sit back and accept the path that America is on, because a great country requires a better direction, because a renewed nation needs a new president,” he said.

Perry enters the crowded Republican fray with favorable polling numbers. Most recent national surveys have him near the top of the ballot behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

After taking to the podium and addressing the audience with a spirited “Howdy!,” Perry, an Air Force veteran, asked for a moment of silence for the Navy SEALs and special operations officers killed in Afghanistan last week. He then reflected upon his humble Texas roots, describing himself as “the son of two tenant farmers,” someone whose mother hand-stitched his clothes until he went off to college, a biographical bit that will likely be a fixture in his campaign stump speech.

The three-term governor, who replaced President George W. Bush in Texas, touted his record as the Lone Star State's chief executive, highlighting job growth there and the tort reform bill he signed into law in July.

Perry also delivered sharp criticism of the man he hopes to challenge next November. “We reject this president's unbridled fixation on taking more money out of the wallets and pocketbooks of American families and employers and giving it to a central government."

He also blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's. “Mr. President, let us tell you something: You cannot win the future by selling America off to foreign creditors,” he said.

In a direct shot at President Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, Perry insisted "the change we seek will never emanate out of Washington, D.C." He then promised Americans he would make Washington as "inconsequential in your life as I can.”

Perry addressed the touchstone concerns of conservatives and Republicans by railing against government spending, the national debt and the nation’s unemployment rate, which currently hovers just over 9 percent. And he received roaring applause from the audience when he pledged to repeal the health care reform legislation the Obama signed into law last year.

“I believe in America. I believe her best days have not yet been lived,” he said in signing off. “With the help and courage of the American people, we will get our country working again." 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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