Texas Governor Rick Perry’s speech to more than 450 central Iowa Republicans tonight touched on themes from his 2012 presidential campaign and raised speculation he may run again in 2016.
“The people in this room, those of you with this new and renewed sense of purpose in this country can lead America back to greatness again,” Perry said. “I stand ready to work with you to create that.”
Perry arrived in Des Moines this morning and sidestepped reporters’ questions about the 2016 race, saying it was “a bit premature” to discuss it. Tonight in his brief, 13-minute banquet speech, Perry said it’s time to “turn away from Washington” to find the solutions that awaken the “sleeping giant” of the American economy.
“You know it’s not just that the political parties disagree, but it’s that they’re so disagreeable, sowing not only discord but distrust. Our leaders have forgotten how to govern and, believe me, I know a few things about forgettin,'” Perry said, a reference to his “oops” moment during one of the 2012 candidate debates that drew laughter and applause from tonight’s crowd.
Perry touted the work of “red state” governors like himself and attacked the “nanny state” solutions he said Democrats prefer.
“We’re losing the country we love to a government that is too big, too arrogant, too controlling of our everyday lives and it is incumbent on us — to the men and women in this room — to take our country back,” Perry said.
AUDIO of Perry’s speech, 13:00
At the beginning of his speech, Perry briefly mentioned visiting Iowa during 2011 in the months leading up to the 2012 Iowa Caucuses.
“I’ve got some really fond memories of campaigning here, competing in the Iowa Caucuses,” Perry said. “The only thing I regret is taking that really big bite out of that veggie corn dog at the State Fair. I’m probably going to see that one again sometime.”
Steve Scheffler — the Republican National Committeeman from Iowa — said Perry is “being smart” to come to Iowa early if he intends to run for president again in 2016.
“I think he could be a player and he’s a person that most social and economic conservatives and liberty people could probably support,” Scheffler said.
Marlow Remmers of West Des Moines supported Perry in the 2012 Caucuses.
“I got to meet him personally,” said Remmers. “Spend five minutes with him, you kind of know what the person’s like. He’s got a good heart. He’s a good man. I mean a really good man.”
Remmers is hoping Perry runs again in 2016.
“Look what he’s done for jobs in Texas. I was in business and that’s important, very important, especially now with the economy the way it is,” Remmers said. “…I know he can do the job.”
Chuck Laudner, who helped guide Rick Santorum to victory in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, said most candidates who run a second time do better.
“Have fun with it,” Launder said. “Embrace it and be right with the issues.”
Republican Congressman Steve King said on Wednesday that if Perry can joke about his poor showing in the 2012 campaign, the Texas governor may be able to get a second chance with voters.
“Rick is a really good man,” King said after an appearance in West Des Moines. “I mean, his character runs very deep. He’s strong and bold. I think he had a couple of missteps in the last campaign that may have had to do with the back surgery that he had.”
Perry had major back surgery a month before he entered the 2012 race and while King does say that likely was a factor in Perry’s losses, King said Perry also needed to display a “more thorough understanding” of federal policy.
“He’s been steeped in state policy in Texas and doing a great job down there for a long, long time and if he applies himself to federal policy in the same way he’s applied himself to state policy in Texas that would fill something that appeared to be a gap then,” King said, “and he may be doing that.”
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad repeatedly cites the work of Republican governors as the fix for the nation’s economy and Branstad often singles Perry out for special praise.
“Rick Perry has led the way: 274,000 new jobs in the last 12 months, 12 percent of all jobs in the whole nation in the state of Texas,” Branstad said recently at an Iowa GOP fundraising banquet as Texas Senator Ted Cruz sat waiting for his turn to speak at the event. “…It is so different than what’s going on in Washington where they spend all their time attacking others and blaming others instead of providing leadership which is what this country needs is executive leadership like the Republican governors are providing in state after state.”
Perry sounds the same theme, suggesting this morning while talking with reporters that it’s time for a “civil discussion” about the “two competing visions of America.”