"Time to get America working again"
It's official: Rick Perry announces he's running for president
Declaring it's "time to get America working again," Texas Gov. Rick Perry officially announced that he is running for president. Appearing before a convention of conservative bloggers in Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, Perry told an overflow crowd packed into a hotel ballroom:
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. 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.”
Even though he is late getting into the race and has never run a national campaign, Perry is considered a major presidential contender. He has a strong fundraising base, is popular with Tea party and religious conservatives who dominate the Republican party and touts a record of job growth in Texas under his leadership.
“He becomes immediately one of the top three candidates and he fills a vacuum, of someone who is a conservative, who has credibility and can speak to the fiscal conservative, anti-big-government and anti-Washington crowd, but he’s also a social conservative,” Matthew Dowd, a former strategist for President George W. Bush, told The New York Times. “At least in the short term, he is a major disruption in the race.”
After the speech, Perry headed to New Hampshire, scene of the nation's first presidential primary. He plans to continue on to Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses next January and was the site of an important straw poll on Saturday in which he was not listed as a candidate.
Though his conservative stand on social issues makes him popular with Republican primary voters, Perry stuck to economic issues in his speech. He said that if elected, he would seek to replicate Texas’s economic successes in the rest of the nation by cutting spending, lowering taxes and creating a fair regulatory structure.
In a preview of the presidential campaign if Perry gets the nomination, the 61-year-old Texas governor continually attacked Obama's handling of the economy.
“In reality, though, this is just the most recent downgrade,” Perry said, referring to the first-ever recent drop in the country’s credit rating. “The fact is for nearly three years, President Obama has been downgrading American jobs, he's been downgrading our standing in the world, he's been downgrading our financial stability, he's been downgrading confidence and downgrading the hope of a better future for our children.”
Obama’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt immediately fired back, describing Perry's economic record in Texas as “no miracle – it’s a tall tale.”
“Gov. Perry allowed special interests to write their own rules, hired corporate lobbyists to oversee corporations, and cut funding for programs that would create opportunity for middle class families,” LaBolt said in a statement as reported by The Los Angeles Times. “In a Republican field that has already pledged allegiance to the Tea Party and failed to present any plan that will benefit the middle class or create the jobs America needs to win the future, Governor Perry offers more of the same.”
The Washington Post noted that the announcement was unusual because presidential candidates traditionally declare a presidential candidacy in the city in which they were live or were born and raised. Perry instead chose a group of 300 political activists. About 500 people filled the hotel ballroom to capacity for Perry's speech.
Now that he's in the race, observers are waiting to see how Perry handles the scrutiny that comes with a presidential campaign.
“He either gets in and gets through the gantlet of the first month or so and consistently moves forward and wins the nomination, or he’s got this terrific flameout,” Dowd told the Times. “There’s no middle ground.”