Texas governor Rick Perry sees a big business opportunity in the nation’s capital. “Bureaucrats in Washington are spending our money on $16 muffins,” he told the CPAC Florida crowd. “You wanna be in the muffin business, don’t you?”
“Don’t tell me there aren’t ways this can be cut,” he continued, “and don’t ask us for more of our money, Mr. President.” Perry would fight muffinomics with a few “guiding principles” from his tenure as governor. Paramount among them: “Don’t spend all the money.” To that end, he encouraged low taxes and legal reforms to attract jobs, noting the business-boosting effect of the loser-pays laws he supported in Texas to “level the legal playing field.”
He’s not impressed by the Obama approach to socialized medicine, which he noted has “failed not just in western Europe, but in Massachusetts.” He called his rival Mitt Romney’s health care plan “a glimpse of America’s future under ObamaCare.” After citing the number of jobs lost in Massachusetts, he asked the crowd to imagine what such a system “will do to the rest of the country.”
It wasn’t the only shot he took at Romney. Perry seems aware of his growing reputation for debate fumbles, and sought to downplay it by maintaining the 2012 election “isn’t about the smoothest campaigner we need to elect.” Instead, “we need the candidate with the best record” – a theme that Romney’s other campaign nemesis, Jon Huntsman, would later go on to promote during his own speech.
As it happens, Perry made a few of those notorious stumbles during his fifteen-minute speech, including a few bits of awkward silence and verbal confusion, and the odd loss of half a sentence that he seemed to have completely misplaced. He seemed a bit rattled after the debate last night.
The governor can still deliver both inspiration and engaging humor, though. “I want to make Washington D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can make it,” he promised. “We need a flatter, broader, fairer federal tax code. We need to eliminate federal regulations from activist agencies like the EPA… The path to success is hard work.” He followed that up with a little joke about Mitt Romney’s crusade to depict Texas as a land of wonders where good governorship is easy: “I’ll tell you one thing, I wasn’t born with four aces in my hand.”
“We continue to reject the idea that Washington is our caretaker,” Perry asserted, highlighting dependency as toxic to the hard work needed to achieve true success. “The nanny state didn’t groom our Greatest Generation – my father’s generation – who freed millions of people from oppression in World War II. If we want to get America working again, we need to get Washington out of the way.”
A few minor slip-ups aside, Perry did much better in his prepared remarks than in the previous night’s debate. He’s got real results on his resume as Texas governor, and he wants to talk about them. Given the chance, he can still do that very well.