Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his entry into the 2012 presidential contest at the RedState gathering in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday.
“It is time to get America working again,” Perry said.
“It is time for Americans to believe again, to believe that the promise of our future is far greater than even the best days of our past,” Perry added. “It is time to believe again in the potential of free enterprise, set free from the shackles of an overbearing federal government.”
Perry also spoke of his humble upbringing in Paint Creek, Tx, which was the most authentic part of his speech that will present a strong contrast with a candidate such as Mitt Romney, as these two former governors are on a collision course.
More importantly, Perry will be aided by Texas’s reputation as state that has been the nation’s job creating engine during his tenure as governor.
It presents a stark contrast to Obama, which Perry, in no uncertain terms, highlighted.
Perry cited the high unemployment rates in the African-American and Hispanic communities, indicting Obama’s promises that he would lift all out of poverty.
“One in six work-eligible Americans cannot fid a fill-time job,” Perry said. “That is not a recovery, that is an economic disaster.”
Further, Perry said, “Mr. President, you can’t win the future by selling it to foreign creditors” and said Obama “has been downgrading American jobs, downgrading our standing in the world, downgrading our financial stability, downgrading confidence, and downgrading the hope of a better future for our children.”
And though he seems allergic to Washington, D.C., Perry said that he would come to Washington to lessen its role in the lives of people.
“I will work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your lives as I can, and free our families, small businesses and states from a burdensome and costly federal government so they can create, innovate, and succeed,” Perry said.
Perry’s message seemed perfectly tailored to South Carolina, a state accustomed to its staunch support of states rights.
Perry will have challenges going forward. Can he raise hard dollars? Can he disassociate himself from comparisons to Josh Brolin’s fictional portrayal of president George W. Bush? Can he convince conservatives that he is conservative enough in light of his signing of the DREAM Act in Texas that gave in-state tuition to illegal immigrants? Can he explain his role (and those close to him) in working with a pharmaceutical conglomerate in trying to mandate Texans into getting the HPV vaccine?
There are, though, many reasons to be bullish about Perry.
He can passionately indict Obama to energize and galvanize the conservative base. He is tested on the campaign trail and is a savvy politician who should not be underestimated. He has a savvy group of advisers who understand the finer points of “the game,” as his last legislative session showed and the build-up to his announcement clearly revealed.
Perry, with his adoption of Twitter and his catering to non-mainstream media and writers, also seems to understand where the political landscape is shifting, particularly online. And he seems to be one step ahead of his competitors.
His announcement at RedState put an exclamation mark on the importance of conservative bloggers in not just contributing to the political conversation but being critical in actually electing candidates to higher office and then holding them and other elected officials accountable.
In addition, his humble upbringing allows him to be an optimistic storyteller in a party stereotyped often as being too dour and too country club.
Perry hit all the right points in his speech, but the speech seemed more a collection of great points rather than a central argument about his candidacy, which he will have to more forcefully define as he hits the campaign trail running this weekend in New Hampshire and Iowa.
If Perry can not stumble out of the gate, he can be a candidate that can cobble together just enough social conservatives, libertarians, and establishment voters to win the nomination.
In a general election, Perry can run on an economic-focused message, with a record to back it up, that would present Obama with a more than formidable challenger.
“America is not broken, Washington, D.C. is broken,” Perry said, which a line he could use to eviscerate Obama in a potential general election matchup.
But Perry has to get to the general election first.