Texas Gov. Rick Perry pledged that "we will take America back"--but did not follow it with "by running for president"--in a speech to Manhattan Republicans Tuesday night. Interestingly, Perry was speaking as a replacement for Donald Trump, who canceled after abandoning his own GOP 2012 ambitions. Perry took the opportunity to offer "an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat stemwinder," The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg reports, touting the booming economy in Texas as evidence that there should be less federal regulation of the states.
"I find it ironic to be filling in for Donald Trump tonight," Perry said. "He's known for saying 'You're fired.' We're known for saying 'You're hired.' That's what we do in Texas." Buzz about a potential Perry campaign has been building in the past month, and intensified when candidate Newt Gingrich's campaign top staff quit--including two aides who've worked for Perry. One of them, David Carney, was at Perry's side in New York, Rutenberg reports.
But Perry is still coy about whether he'll get in the race. He told the Texas Tribune's Jay Root that "it's pretty interesting" that he's been the subject of so much presidential speculation recently. "People would like to have some other options in the race, obviously," Perry said. The Texan then told Fox News he was "giving it some serious thought."
Politico's Maggie Haberman says Perry "sounded like a candidate in waiting," his address like "a draft of a stump speech." And he urged the crowd to text "leadership" to a phone number "to receive updates on his efforts to battle federal incursion into state activities," The Associated Press' Beth Fouhy notes. Haberman says that's "an organizing tool often used by campaigns."
Reactions to Perry's speech are pretty positive. The Spectator's Alex Massie writes that Perry has the advantage of a simple story and theme: that "Texas is working" and that "what's worked for Texas can work for the rest of America too." And the National Review's Rich Lowry is impressed by Perry, writing:
There are three things a presidential candidate generally needs: 1) presence (does he fill the room?); 2) a narrative (does his biography and/or record add up to something?); 3) a theme (does he have a point in running?). Based on tonight, I’d say Perry could well have all three.